Faced with the prospect of fighting a judge’s order compelling him to give deposition in the ongoing lawsuits connected to his truck stop’s rebate fraud scheme, Jimmy Haslam’s attorneys say the Pilot Flying J CEO is willing to be deposed if certain circumstances are met.
Haslam’s attorney, Stephen D. Brody said in a letter filed May 6 with the Alabama Superior Court that the owner and chief executive of the largest truck stop chain in the nation is eager to put the matter behind him. Haslam has consistently denied any knowledge of the scheme that saw federal investigators raid the company’s Tennessee headquarters in April 2013.
Eight former executives and high-ranking employees have been charged in connection with the fraud scheme, and the company agreed to pay out more than $85 million in restitution to more than 5,000 customers who had partaken in the company’s rebate plan. The company also agreed to pay $92 million in fines and accept responsibility for the criminal conduct of its employees. Haslam has not been charged in connection with the criminal case.
The conditions outlined in the letter include Haslam’s deposition being coordinated amongst all the currently pending civil cases, and that deposition must be limited to only a single, seven-hour session. The letter also requests that deposition be held after an appeals court determines whether the Alabama case proceeds in state or federal court. A May 13 hearing is scheduled for that matter.
Last month, Mobile Circuit Court Judge Sarah Stewart denied a request by Haslam’s lawyer to reconsider an order that he be made to sit for deposition.
The Alabama suit was filed by Wright Transportation, one of the last remaining companies to have opted out of the settlement agreement with Pilot Flying J.
The lawsuit alleges that Wright Transportation had been involved in the rebate program since 2007, and that Pilot targeted smaller trucking companies like Wright Transportation for the rebate program, only to cook the books to skim some of the discount moneys for itself and to pay lavish bonuses and benefits to its officers, managers and employees, including Haslam.
Stephen Tunstall, the attorney representing Wright Transportation, could not be reached for comment Monday.
The alleged conspiracy involved fraudulent and false pretenses, promises and representations made to the targeted trucking companies, including fraudulently generated invoices and rebate amounts. The indictment alleges the conspiracy involved either or both “Off-Invoice Fraud” where the represented discount amount was not submitted to Pilot’s billing system for the customer’s invoices and “Rebate Fraud” where customers who received monthly rebate checks had portions of the full rebate amount “deliberately and fraudulently” withheld by various means.
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