Independent Counsel Chosen in Pilot Flying J Probe

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The board of directors of Pilot Flying J on Wednesday appointed Reid Weingarten to serve as a special independent counsel.

Weingarten is listed by the National Law Journal as one of the nation's 100 most influential lawyers.

He will oversee an internal investigation of the recent federal allegations that Pilot Flying J under paid rebates on diesel fuel purchases owed to some customers.

An attorney for Pilot Flying J says CEO Jimmy Haslam is "suffering" and "disappointed" by the FBI investigation and trying to correct the situation.

The attorney also says no one was more surprised by the FBI investigation than CEO  Jimmy Haslam.

Atty. Aubrey Harwell, Jr. says he won't soon forget April 15, the day federal investigators descended on the headquarters of Pilot Flying J in Knoxville. "Jimmy was stunned," Harwell said. "I was not involved. I was in the process of heading for Dallas when I got a telephone call, so shocked is probably an accurate statement."

During an interview at his Nashville office, Harwell said not only did Haslam not know of the investigation, he was also unaware of the allegations that Pilot Flying J may have under paid rebates on diesel fuel purchases owed to some of it's trucking customers.

"My client is suffering. He is unhappy; he is hurt and disappointed," Harwell said

Harwell says Haslam is determined to find out the truth and rectify anything wrong that may have taken place.

Haslam and officials are also talking to customers that may be owed money.

"I know he has talked to a significant number," Harwell said. "I know a number of checks have been set out. I also know, Peggy, a number of checks have not yet been sent because we have the internal and external audit people working. We don't want to pay too little and we don't want to pay too much."

Harwell says he believes the investigation will have no effect on Haslam's ownership of the Cleveland Browns.

No criminal charges have been filed.

"Jimmy Haslam has been transparent and open that we are gonna do the right thing and he is doing the right thing," Harwell said.

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