More indictments could surface in the Pilot Flying J scandal after federal agents revealed they secretly recorded more than 200 hours of conversations that took place during the investigation of rebate fraud at the Knoxville, Tenn.-based travel center chain, which began in May 2011.
According to a report by Cleveland.com, documents filed in the U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn. last Friday and Monday—regarding the case being compiled against eight former Pilot Flying J employees who are accused of involvement in a rebate scam that cheated trucking companies out of tens of millions of dollars—the investigation remains ongoing and prosecutors wish to keep it under seal.
The eight former Pilot Flying J employees, include company president Mark Hazelwood and top executive John Freeman; Scott Wombold, a former vice president; Vicki Borden, a supervisor in sales; John Spiewak, a regional manager based in Dayton; and regional managers Katy Bibee, Heather Jones and Karen Mann. They were indicted on Feb. 3 on conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and each has pleaded not guilty. The charges were unsealed Feb. 9. Due to the complexity of the case, a trial date has been set for Oct. 24, 2017.
Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam, who also owns the Cleveland Browns, has not been charged. He has continuously stated that he was not aware of any wrongdoing. He is not mentioned in the recently filed documents nor the indictments.
According to the documents, hidden recordings, investigative memoranda, grand jury material and other information “contain a significant amount of information about individuals who have not been charged, who may be witnesses, subjects, targets and who may not have been advised of their status in the ongoing investigation. The public dissemination of that material risks harm to the ongoing criminal investigation,” Clevland.com reported.
Cleveland.com reported that according to prosecutors, federal agents have some 40 containers of electronically-stored information from Pilot Flying J as well as more than 55,000 pages of documents from Pilot Flying J that were obtained during the raid that took place on April 15, 2013, by FBI and IRS agents. In their possession, federal agents also have more than 200 hours of recorded conversations that took place “between confidential sources and numerous individuals that occurred during the course of the criminal investigation.”
Also included in the materials obtained from Pilot are more than 300 gigabytes of data that authorities acquired through a July 2014 agreement between the U.S. Justice Department and the company. Pilot Flying J, as part of that agreement, paid the government $92 million to avoid charges against the corporation.
Ten other employees, who also worked in the sales department, already have pleaded guilty to charges and are cooperating with prosecutors. They are accused of withholding large portions of rebates from trucking companies and sending those businesses fraudulent statements.