A timeline of the Pilot Flying J investigation

|
News,Business

A timeline of events in the federal investigation into rebate fraud at the Pilot Flying J truck-stop chain owned by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his brother, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam:

— May 4, 2011: An informant contacts the FBI about a regional sales manager's statement that Pilot is cheating customers out of contractually set rebates.

— Aug. 2, 2012: Jimmy Haslam buys the Cleveland Browns for $1 billion.

—Sept. 11, 2012: Haslam steps down as CEO of Pilot Flying J to concentrate on rebuilding the NFL franchise. He remains board chairman.

— Oct, 4, 2012: A Pilot regional sales manager agrees to cooperate with FBI investigators and record conversations with colleagues.

— Oct. 25, 2012: The confidential source records a meeting held at the Rockwood, Tennessee, lake house of John "Stick" Freeman, Pilot's vice president of sales. Freeman recounts getting caught withholding rebate money from a customer and brags that he had to pay back $1 million but still came out $6 million ahead. Asked about Jimmy Haslam's reaction, Freeman is recorded as saying: "He knew it all along. Loved it."

— Feb. 11, 2013: Haslam announces he will reassume his position as CEO of Pilot.

— April 1, 2013: The FBI's confidential source returns from a two-week vacation to find the company has launched an internal audit of the manual rebate process used to defraud customers, stirring concerns among the Pilot sales staff.

— April 15, 2013: Federal agents raid Pilot's headquarters in Knoxville and the homes of three sales executives in Iowa, Kentucky and Tennessee.

— April 18, 2013: A judge unseals a 120-page FBI affidavit that includes allegations that Jimmy Haslam and other senior managers were aware of the rebate fraud scheme. Haslam denies wrongdoing.

— April 22, 2013: Jimmy Haslam announces the suspension of several members of sales team, but does not identify them.

— May 29, 2013: The first two members of the Pilot sales team plead guilty and agree to cooperate with federal prosecutors.

— July 16, 2013: Pilot settles a class action lawsuit filed by trucking companies, eventually agreeing to pay out $85 million to 5,500 customers.

— June 18, 2013: Three more members of the Pilot sales team plead guilty.

— July 12, 2013: Pilot begins sending checks to trucking company customers shorted on rebates.

— July 29, 2013: Two more members of the Pilot sales team plead guilty.

— Jan 27, 2014: Three more Pilot employees plead guilty to federal charges, bringing the total to 10.

— May 19, 2014: Pilot President Mark Hazelwood and Vice President Scott "Scooter" Wombold leave the company.

— May 20, 2104: Pilot terminates three sales executives and places two sales representatives on administrative leave.

View article comments Leave a comment

More from washingtonexaminer.com