Tag Archives: haslam family

Trucking companies claim Jimmy Haslam orchestrated rebate scheme

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two trucking companies are accusing Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam of directly orchestrating a scheme to cheat customers out of promised rebates and discounts, according to recent court filings.

Haslam is the CEO of Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest diesel retailer, with annual revenues of around $30 billion. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam also holds an undisclosed ownership share in the company but has said he is not involved in Pilot’s day-to-day operations.

Since federal agents raided Pilot’s Knoxville headquarters in April 2013, 10 former employees have pleaded guilty to the scheme to defraud customers. Jimmy Haslam has not been charged with any crime.

The accusations against him came in a bill of particulars filed Friday in federal court by National Retail Transportation Inc. and Keystone Freight Corp. They were first reported by investigative reporter Walter F. Roche Jr. on his blog.

Tom Ingram, a spokesman for the Pilot CEO, said Saturday that he was not familiar with the claims made in this lawsuit, but “Jimmy Haslam has said from the beginning that he was unaware of any issues and that he would get to the bottom of it and deal with any issues. And that continues to be his position.”
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UT gets $50M, names business school for Jim Haslam

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee has named its College of Business Administration after Jim Haslam in recognition of a $50 million gift from the Haslam family.

The motion approved on Friday by the UT Board of Trustees says the name change also recognizes Haslam’s “lifetime of exemplary leadership, consistent adherence to strong core values, selfless service and passion for excellence.”

Haslam is the founder of truck-stop chain Pilot Flying J. He is the father of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

The elder Haslam played tackle for the University of Tennessee under Gen. Robert R. Neyland before founding Pilot Corp. in 1958.

At the trustees meeting, UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek called Haslam “the most committed person to a university that I’ve ever been in contact with.”

Jim Haslam may have fallen asleep before traffic accident; won’t be cited

From the News Sentinel:
Pilot founder Jim Haslam won’t be cited in a wreck that happened on his way home from work Monday, police said.

Haslam, the 83-year-old father of Gov. Bill Haslam, might have fallen asleep at the wheel when his 2014 Mercedes drifted across the center line of Lyons View Pike in West Knoxville near Westcliff Condominiums around 1:30 p.m., sideswiped one car, swung back across the road into a wall and was rear-ended by another car, Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk said.

Everyone involved wore seat belts, and no one was seriously hurt, police said.

Haslam had left work at Pilot Flying J early, telling co-workers he felt ill, DeBusk said. An investigating officer noted Haslam looked “fatigued” after the crash.

“We don’t know if he fell asleep or had some other medical issue,” DeBusk said.

Haslam was treated by his personal doctor after the crash and was “doing well” at home Monday night, a family spokeswoman said.

Jim Haslam involved in traffic mishap

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Pilot Flying J founder Jim Haslam, the father of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, has been involved in a three-car traffic accident in Knoxville.

A family spokesman says the elder Haslam was examined and released by his doctor after the Monday wreck.

According to Knoxville police spokesman Darrell DeBusk, Haslam’s 2014 Mercedes drifted across the center line, sideswiped an SUV and then went off the roadway and struck a wall. The third vehicle then hit the rear of the Mercedes.

Haslam played tackle for the University of Tennessee under Gen. Robert R. Neyland before founding Pilot Corp. in 1958 with a single gas station in Gate City, Virginia. The privately held company now has annual revenues of more than $30 billion.

Note: A bit more detail from the News Sentinel report:

The crash happened just after 1:30 p.m. on Lyons View Pike in West Knoxville near Westcliff Condominiums, Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk said. Haslam, 83, was headed west when his 2014 Mercedes drifted across the center line and sideswiped an eastbound Toyota Highlander, then ran off the road and into a utility pole, police said.

The Mercedes then bounced back across the road and into a wall, where a 2006 PT Cruiser hit the Mercedes’ rear end, police said.

A family member drove Haslam to see his personal doctor, spokeswoman Cynthia Moxley said….All three drivers wore seat belts

Judge orders mediation in Pilot Flying J lawsuit

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered mediation in a lawsuit targeting the truck-stop chain owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The suit claims Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J fraudulently withheld fuel rebates and discounts from customers. Pilot earlier settled similar claims in a class-action lawsuit for $85 million. A few companies opted out of that settlement.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1uKOqe1) that some plaintiffs’ attorneys this week objected to the ordered mediation. They said they need to take discovery first to determine what was stolen from their clients.

A Pilot attorney disagreed, saying an audit provided by the company gives an “absolutely full picture” of the damages.

Pilot also recently agreed to pay a $92 million penalty to avoid criminal charges against the company.

Gov. Haslam: With $92M settlement, Pilot Flying J can put fraud probe in past

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says the truck stop company he co-owns can start putting the fraud investigation behind it after it struck a deal with prosecutors to pay a $92 million fine and acknowledge that employees cheated customers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee announced the company has agreed to pay the fine in an agreement signed Friday.

Haslam is not involved in Pilot Flying J’s day-to-day operations of the company that is co-owned by his brother, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

Ten employees of the truck-stop company have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme to cheat customers out of promised fuel rebates and discounts. The agreement does not protect anyone at Pilot from prosecution and requires the company to cooperate with an ongoing investigation.

Pilot to pay $92M, avoid corporate criminal charges under deal with prosecuters

Pilot Flying J has reached a deal with federal prosecutors to avoid criminal charges against the company, reports the News Sentinel.

Under the deal made public on Monday, Pilot must pay a $92 million penalty over two years and cooperate with an ongoing criminal investigation into diesel fuel rebate fraud.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release that the criminal enforcement agreement “expressly states that it provides no protection from prosecution to any individual” in connection with the case.

“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,” CEO Jimmy Haslam said in a company release.

“We’ve been committed from the beginning of this to doing the right thing, and that remains our commitment.”

The government’s investigation of alleged diesel fuel rebate fraud at Pilot became public last year. Since then, the company has reached an $85 million settlement in federal court with trucking customers who claimed in civil lawsuits that they had been shorted on diesel fuel rebates.

Under that settlement, Pilot agreed to repay any amounts owed, plus 6 percent interest and attorneys’ fees.

A criminal investigation is ongoing, and 10 former employees have pleaded guilty to charges in connection with the case.

In the government’s news release, U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said 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.”

The agreement, which was signed on Friday by Pilot attorneys, states that the company will use its best efforts to make any present or former directors, officers or employees available for interviews or testimony, as requested by prosecutors. That includes identifying witnesses who may have material information.

The agreement also does not prevent the Internal Revenue Service from pursuing any civil collection actions.

The looming unanswered question is which Pilot employees or former employees — if any — still might be targeted for indictments. The most high-profile executive is Haslam, the owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, the son of the company’s founder and the brother of Tennessee’s governor.

Haslam has said he had no knowledge of fraud, and Tom Withers, a Savannah, Ga., defense attorney and former assistant U.S. attorney, said Monday that “it would strike me as unusual if the company were to resolve things and they didn’t have some kind of an indication from the government that the government was not going to go after (Jimmy) Haslam. That would be unusual in my judgment.”

On May 19, nine employees left Pilot, were terminated or were placed on administrative leave, including former President Mark Hazelwood and former Vice President of Sales John Freeman, who alleged in a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI that Haslam was aware of the company’s fraudulent activity in at least one instance.

Haslam, Martin are board members of group approved to operate Knox charter school

Gov. Bill Haslam sits on the board of the local youth foundation that successfully applied to create Knox County’s first charter school, reports the News Sentinel.

But Haslam, who supports the idea of more charter schools in Tennessee, had no direct input on Emerald Academy, those close to the school proposal said. Nor did Haslam or those connected to him reach out to Knox County Schools officials during the vetting process for Emerald Academy, according to interviews by the News Sentinel.

Haslam is an honorary member of the board of trustees for the Emerald Youth Foundation, and so is Larry Martin, his longtime aide and current (commissioner of the Department of Finance and Administration).

“I have not had a conversation with (Haslam) on the charter school,” said Steve Diggs, executive director of the Emerald Youth Foundation. “He had no direct input.”

Knox County school board members interviewed by the News Sentinel said they were not lobbied to support the school, which the board approved this past week. The academy is intended for inner-city students and could open as early as 2015 while pulling $4.8 million in public school funding, school officials estimate.

“This is all a bunch of B.S. if people think there’s some hoodoo in there,” school board Chairwoman Lynne Fugate said about any behind-the-scenes actions around the Emerald Academy application and its approval.

Some observers of local government and schools have taken to online forums with opinions and rumors that Haslam had direct ties to the charter school. Fugate and other school board members said there was no such link.

“No Haslams, nobody like that,” school board member Indya Kincannon told the News Sentinel.

She and other school board members said Diggs contacted them with an offer to answer questions, and that he was the only person pushing the Emerald concept.

Doug Harris, a school board member who also sits on the Emerald Youth Foundation board of trustees, said he did not contact fellow school board members either — which would have violated state open meetings law.

…Emerald Youth Foundation has a legacy of working with inner-city schools in Knox County. Since starting with summer programs in the late 1980s, its after-school, tutoring and mentor programs have expanded to present-day work with 1,350 youth in churches and schools.

…In 2011 the foundation presented Haslam and his wife, Crissy, with its Legacy Award.

Diggs said such connections are important for running a nonprofit, and that they may be relied upon to support the charter school.

“I can tell you that if you’re going to pull off a high-quality charter school in Knox County, you’re going to find a way to engage the family foundations,” he said. “You’re going to need philanthropists of all levels.”

Dee Haslam, wife of Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam and sister-in-law to Gov. Haslam, said her Emerald support is rooted in her philosophy, not politics. She’s on the foundation’s board and was one of the first people to hear about a report from Diggs’ staff that showed gaps in achievement in inner-city Knoxville.

She, with other board members, first discussed an idea that led to the proposed charter school. She added that her participation in the charter school concept was only in the Emerald board of trustee meetings. She said she did not personally lobby anyone’s support on the school board.

President of Pilot Flying J no longer employed by company

As a federal investigation into Pilot Flying J continues, the president of the Knoxville-based chain of truck stops and another executive have left the company.

Further from the News Sentinel:

In an email to employees on Monday, CEO Jimmy Haslam stated that company President Mark Hazelwood was no longer with Pilot, effective immediately.

“Please join me in thanking him for his many years of service,” he wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Metro Pulse. “We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.”

Gordon Ball, an attorney for Hazelwood, declined on Monday to confirm the report, or to comment on it.

According to a source close to Pilot, Scott Wombold also is no longer with the company, as of Monday.

The April 2013 affidavit identified Wombold as vice president of national accounts, reporting to Hazelwood, although his most recent title is unclear.

Jimmy Haslam honored as UT ‘distinguished alumnus’

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee has granted its top alumni award to Jimmy Haslam amid an ongoing federal investigation into his family’s company, Pilot Flying J, and its legal settlement with thousands of trucking company customers.

Haslam is the CEO of Pilot, the country’s largest diesel retailer, and the owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. His brother, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, is the chairman of the university’s board of trustees.

The state’s flagship public university announced with little fanfare recently that Jimmy Haslam was one of four people given its Distinguished Alumnus Award, the school’s highest honor for graduates who have “excelled in their field on the national or international stage and have brought credit to UT.”

University spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen did not address whether the investigation into rebate fraud at Pilot was considered by the panel that selected Haslam.

“Jimmy Haslam is a great friend of the University of Tennessee and an important member of the Big Orange family,” she said in an email.
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