‘Pilot Flying J’ avoids federal prosecution

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(Fox 8 file photo)

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee-‘Pilot Flying J’ will not be prosecuted after being accused of cheating customers on fuel rebates by the company Atlantic Coast Carriers.

In a news release sent this afternoon, FOX 8 learned an agreement has been reached between Pilot Flying J, the U. S. Attorney’s office, Eastern District of Tennessee, and the U. S. Department of Justice.

The agreement, titled a ‘Criminal Enforcement Agreement,’ is neither an indictment nor a finding of guilt.

According to a news release the company will not be prosecuted under any current circumstances so long as it complies with the terms of the agreement.

According to a release from United States Attorney William C. Killian’s office, the agreement also states that it provides no protection from prosecution to any individual, and moreover, imposes a continuing obligation on Pilot to provide complete cooperation with the ongoing federal investigation of current and former Pilot employees relating to fraudulent conduct involving the sale of diesel fuel.

“The terms of this agreement, including the significant monetary penalty and the very serious consequences if Pilot fails to comply, demonstrate quite clearly that no corporation, no matter how big, influential, or wealthy, is above the law,” said U.S. Attorney Bill Killian. “In addition, the company’s agreement to fully cooperate with the United States, including its obligation to identify its employees’ criminal conduct, will assist the ongoing federal investigation.”

Pilot J won’t face prosecution, assuming it follows the terms of the agreement, including paying a monetary penalty over the next two years and fully cooperating with the federal government’s investigation of fraudulent conduct within the company’s diesel fuel sales discount programs.

“We, as a company, look forward to putting this whole unfortunate episode behind us, continuing our efforts to rectify the damage done, regaining our customers’ trust, and getting on with our business,” said CEO Jimmy Haslam. “We’ve been committed from the beginning of this to doing the right thing, and that remains our commitment.”

“The past 15 months, since the federal government served a search warrant on the company’s headquarters, have been very trying for all involved,” said Aubrey Harwell, Pilot Flying J’s attorney. “The company has cooperated fully with the government and will continue to do so. As to its customers, the company has gone to extraordinary lengths to understand and identify any wrongdoing and make it right.”

“Under the terms of the agreement,” Harwell added, “the company has certain obligations, which it fully intends to fulfill. We appreciate the diligence the U. S. Attorney’s office has shown in this matter. It certainly has been no less diligent than our own internal investigation. I believe this agreement is the result of the good intentions of both sides to do the right thing.”

Pilot Flying J has acknowledged and accepts full responsibility for any criminal conduct committed by its employees, including some personnel involved with the operation and oversight of its direct diesel fuel sales group, an approximately 90-member division of the company, which overall has 23,000 employees and 650 retail locations nationwide.

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