One Year Later: Pilot Flying J Investigation

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CLEVELAND- It’s a day that Cleveland Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam won’t forget.

Last April 15th, federal agents raided Pilot Flying J’s Headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee looking for information on what investigators say was a fuel rebate scheme.

The company is run by Haslam and his family.

Haslam declined to be interviewed on the matter but released a written statement.

“April 15, 2013 was an extremely embarrassing and humbling day for Pilot Flying J.  Since then, we have pledged to make things right with our customers.  We have worked diligently with our customers to do just that. We have repaid virtually every customer with interest,” Haslam said in the statement.

Since the raid, 10 Pilot Flying J employees have pleaded guilty to fraud related charges.
Haslam has not been charged.

“I have said since day one, Jimmy Haslam was not involved and knew nothing about this and I say that right here, close to the one year anniversary April 15th of this event, the truth of the matter is these are historic fact, they are not going to change. 

Jimmy knew nothing about this, was not involved in this,” said Aubrey Harwell, Haslam’s attorney.

Harwell said his client has been doing everything he can to make sure all customers are treated fairly, noting that in the last year, the company paid out about $85 million in settlements.

“There are 5,000 plus customers with Pilot Flying J, we have audited the accounts of all of our customers and we sent them checks, plus six percent interest plus the amount of what is owed,” Harwell said. “We got about a dozen lawsuits left and that’s it.”

While dealing with the civil lawsuits and internal changes has been very time consuming, the federal probe hasn’t kept Haslam from running his football team.

Browns officials say Haslam still spends quite a bit of time with the team, and is at the headquarters at least once a week.

Harwell says he doesn’t expect that to change, and noted that neither he nor Haslam know when the investigation will be over.

“Only the government knows that,” Harwell said.

Federal officials aren’t talking about the case right now, since it is ongoing.