A trucking company in Georgia has filed a lawsuit against Pilot Flying J and hopes to make it a class action. Atlantic Coast Carriers of Hazlehurst, GA, cites the “wrongful withholding of rebate funds…and racketeering.”
The filing of the lawsuit is the latest development in a flurry of activity involving an FBI investigation of Pilot Flying J, including a raid last week on the Knoxville, TN, corporate offices. On April 15, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service seized computers and other documents and also searched the homes of several of the company’s sales staff.
The reason for the raid was clarified when an affidavit for search warrants was unsealed in federal court in Knoxville on April 18. According to the affidavit, the investigation alleges a rebate scheme designed for the dual purposes “of increasing the profitability of Pilot and increasing the diesel sales commissions of the Pilot employees participating in the fraud.”
Atlantic Coast Carriers’ attorney filed the civil action this week in the Circuit Court for Knox County, TN. The filing doesn’t specify how much money the company may be owed. According to its website, the company operates about 35 trucks. Atlantic Coast Carriers is asking for a jury trial.
Last week, Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam told reporters that the FBI investigation into withholding rebates is “focused on a very narrow band of a very large company,” and adding that “Dad built this company on its integrity and nothing’s changed on my watch.”
On Monday, Haslam spoke again to the press about the investigation from his Knoxville headquarters – his third news conference in a week. Haslam called last week’s event “embarrassing” and “painful.” He outlined his five-point plan for the corporation’s own internal study; administrative leave for some sales people; appointing a new chief compliance officer; and “doing away with the manual process.” He will also bring in a special independent investigator.
He did not take questions from the media.
Editor-in-chief Sandi Soendker and Staff Writer Clarissa Kell-Holland contributed to this report.
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