Former Pilot Flying J execs use racial epithets, mock Browns, Cleveland on trial tapes

CHATTANOOGA,  TN - After a month off, the federal trial of former top executives with Pilot Flying J continued today in federal court in Chattanooga with the playing of some extremely controversial tape recordings that include one of the defendants saying the n-word.

Defense attorneys initially asked for a mistrial, which was denied.

Federal prosecutors then played the tapes, made by an FBI informant at an informal gathering of sales staff and former company president Mark Hazelwood,  in court.

On the tapes, Hazelwood and others could be heard making disparaging remarks about the Browns and Cleveland. Hazelwood could be heard saying that the team "sucks" and would never win a Super Bowl.

They also talked about what they called the "liberal nature" of people in Oakland, California.

Hazelwood also made disparaging remarks about black and women and listened to music that prominently featured the n-word.

A judge ruled that the recordings could be played in court back in December, but the defense  mounted a last-ditch attempt to either stop the tapes or get a mistrial

They argued if the recordings were played it would prevent  Hazelwood and the others charged in the case from getting a fair trial.

Federal prosecutors argued that the tapes were necessary to counterbalance a video played in court by defense attorneys that attempted to show Hazelwood was a hard-charging and fair executive.

Pilot Flying J is controlled by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. They were not at the meeting and were not on the recording played at trial.

Haslam has not been charged in the case and was not part of the FBI’s investigation.

**Continuing coverage**