Pilot board appoints independent counsel to lead internal investigation

By Clarissa Kell-Holland, Land Line staff writer | 5/1/2013

Criminal and civil lawsuits continue to mount against Pilot Flying J over allegations its sales staff and executives underpaid fuel rebates to small and mid-size trucking companies. The truck stop chain’s board of directors have now appointed “special independent counsel” to conduct its own internal investigation.

According to the news release issued by Pilot Flying J on May 1, the board has appointed Reid Weingarten of Steptoe and Johnson LLP, who “will lead, oversee and validate an internal investigation of recent federal allegations that Pilot Flying J underpaid rebates on diesel fuel purchases owed to some of its trucking company customers.”

On Monday, April 15, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service raided Pilot Flying J corporate headquarters, seizing computers and documents related to the alleged fuel rebate fraud scheme.

A criminal case and at least three class-action lawsuits have been filed against Pilot Flying J since claims were made by former employees and informants cooperating with the FBI that sales executives entered into rebate or discount programs with trucking companies for purchasing a certain volume of fuel each month, but then manually reduced the amounts the companies were owed.

The board has also named Brad Martin, retired chairman and CEO of Saks Inc., a Pilot Flying J board member, to head a special committee that will work with Weingarten and “receive his eventual report.” Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, former president of Pilot and currently a major shareholder, once worked for Martin as an executive at Saks.

Related articles and blogs:
Civil lawsuits mount against Pilot Flying J over alleged fuel rebate scheme
From the LL Blog: Pilot Flying J affidavit reveals possible racism 
Haslam: 'If we owe them money, we will write them a check immediately'
From the LL blog: 'Low hanging fruit'
Georgia trucking company files lawsuit against Pilot Flying J
New details emerge in Pilot Flying J criminal investigation
FBI, IRS investigation focuses on Pilot Flying J customer 'rebate' program

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