Attorneys in Pilot Flying J rebate case file motion to delay

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 1/28/2015

The 10 defendants who have offered plea deals in a criminal case involving alleged scams against trucking companies enrolled in Pilot Flying J’s fuel-rebate program will not face sentencing until at least June. Prosecutors and defense attorneys filed a joint motion asking a U.S. District Court judge in Knoxville, Tenn., to delay a sentencing date until June 24.

“Due to this status report, neither party is requesting the court to schedule a sentencing date in this case at this time,” attorneys stated in the joint motion filed Tuesday, Jan. 27, in lieu of a court appearance.

On April 15, 2013, the FBI raided Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., uncovering evidence of an orchestrated scheme by internal sales executives and staff to issue smaller rebate checks to trucking companies than they were promised through the company’s rebate program. According to an FBI affidavit, the belief of the alleged conspirators was that trucking companies would still receive rebate checks, but would not catch on that they were being shortchanged.

The investigation led to the indictments of 10 individual executives and sales staffers who have pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and wire fraud according to U.S. Attorney William Killian with the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Pilot Flying J as a company was ordered to pay a $92 million civil penalty to avoid criminal charges and has settled civil class-action lawsuits with trucking companies totaling $85 million.

The motion to delay sentencing until June could be a sign of more action to come in the criminal case.

As previously reported, three additional Pilot Flying J executives including former president Mark Hazelwood have received target letters from federal investigators but have not been indicted.

Throughout the proceedings, Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam has denied any knowledge of the alleged rebate scheme and has not been charged.

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