Criminal trial starts Monday against top brass of Flying Pilot J
A two-month criminal trial will starts Monday against Mark Hazelwood and three other former key executives of Flying Pilot J. The company is paying for their defense. The Final Four executives are accused of conspiracy, fraud, and jury tampering. Convictions of 14 other company executives came with 20 years in jail.
Hazelwood is former Pilot President, who only reported to Haslam. Also accused of crimes is Scott Wombold, Pilot's former V.P. of National Sales. The other two defendants of the Hazelwood Four are former Regional Sales Representatives Heather Jones and Karen Mann.
The four are being tried at the same time, rather than being split into four separate cases.
So far, 14 former Flying Pilot J employees have plead guilty to mail and wire fraud. They are awaiting sentencing pending the outcome of the Hazelwood Four trial.
The guilty parties admitted skimming money to increase their bonuses, commissions, and profits by falsifying customer records in order to overcharge them by millions of dollars.
Pilot Flying J has paid a $92 million fine. The company also admitted stealing $56 million from its customers. Pilot has also paid an additional $85 million in damages to 5500 trucking companies who were victims of the fraud. More claims for money damages are pending in other court actions by multiple trucking company victims.
The FBI raided Pilot Flying J's Knoxville headquarters on April 15, 2013.
Neither Jimmy Haslam nor his wife, Dee, have been charged with any crime. Jimmy Haslam has also denied any knowledge of the wrongdoing.
Pilot owns and operates 750 truck stops, travel centers, and travel plazas, more than any other company in North America. Pilot employs 24,000 persons. The company was sold this month to a group headed by Warren Buffett, one of the world's richest men. In six years, the Haslam family will own only 20 per cent of the company instead of a having a majority share.
John "Stick" Freeman, former Vice President of Sales at Flying Pilot J, has already flipped. He was an FBI informant and wore a wire for about a year. In court documents, Stick said that Haslam knew the company was scamming money from its customers all along and that Jimmy, "Loved it!
Freeman is facing 20 years in jail. He is awaiting sentencing pending the outcome of the Hazelwood Four's trial.
Court documents of Freeman's testimony are attached below: