The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

June 19, 2013

Three more plead guilty in probe of Pilot Flying J

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Three more employees of the truck stop chain owned by the Cleveland Browns’ owner and Tennessee’s governor pleaded guilty Tuesday in what authorities call a scheme to cheat trucking firms out of rebates.

Regional sales manager Kevin Clark pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court in Knoxville. Local media reported that account manager Holly Radford and salesman Jay Stinnett entered similar pleas later in the day.

Court records state Clark “knowingly and voluntarily joined and participated in the conspiracy” with others at Pilot Flying J, the country’s largest diesel retailer, to short-change trucking companies between 2009 and this spring  in order to increase Pilot profits and boost sales commissions.

Federal agents raided the privately held company’s Knoxville headquarters in April. Pilot is run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, the brother of Gov. Bill Haslam. Jimmy Haslam has denied any personal wrongdoing.

“We are disappointed in the actions of these employees towards our customers,” Pilot spokesman Tom Ingram said in a statement. “We assure our customers that our five-step plan to correct any wrongdoing and to make certain these actions do not happen again is ongoing.”

The governor maintains he is not involved with operating Pilot Flying J, though he continues to hold an undisclosed ownership stake in the company posting annual revenues of $31 billion.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors said they will only hold Clark responsible for rebate reductions he personally approved, rather than all of the alleged fraud committed as part of the conspiracy. Clark has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and testify on behalf of the prosecution.

Clark’s attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Radford’s and Stinnett’s court records had not been unsealed by Tuesday evening, and information about who their lawyers are was not immediately available.

Secret recordings made as part of the investigation show that members of the Pilot sales team derided some clients as unsophisticated, lazy and undeserving of rebates they had negotiated when signing a deal to buy fuel from Pilot. An FBI affidavit indicates millions of dollars were unfairly withheld.

According to the transcript of a Nov. 28 conversation, Clark recounted how managers of Omaha, Neb.-based Morehouse Trucking had failed to keep track of how much money was due in rebates.

“The dumb (expletive) never checked, I guess,” Clark said. “I felt like sayin’, ‘Well you’re the moron that didn’t check it!”’

Jimmy Haslam in one of his first public appearances following the April raid told reporters that he had called Clark to obtain a phone number for Morehouse and made arrangements to reimburse any rebates the company had failed to pay.

Manager Curt Morehouse said in a phone interview Tuesday that he had always had a good impression of Clark before the details of the rebate allegations began to surface.

“Everything about him was positive, until I read the affidavits,” Morehouse said.  “At that point my opinion of him changed.”

 

1
Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Lower-income teens don’t get enough sleep

    African-American high school students and boys in low- to middle-income families reported short, fragmented sleep, and that could play a role in their health risks, researchers reported Monday.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • Health agencies try to counter mumps outbreak

    Health agencies trying to stem a large and growing mumps outbreak are advising college, school and even day care leaders to make sure central Ohio students are immunized and to separate them from those who haven’t been vaccinated and those who are infected.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • An ocean of broken hearts

    Lee Byung-soo says he knew, when he saw his 15-year-old son’s body in the tent. It could not have been more horrifically obvious. But he wanted so much for him to be alive.

    April 22, 2014

  • Biden conferring with Ukranian leader over what to do
    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday for talks with Ukraine’s embattled interim leaders as Russia’s top diplomat blamed Washington for instigating the crisis that threatens to escalate into armed conflict between the two former Soviet republics.
     

    April 22, 2014

  • Panel’s role in Cleveland police ruling questioned

    A lawyer for families of men killed in separate 2012 shootings by Cleveland police — including a 137-bullet chase under federal investigation — is questioning a grand jury’s role in a recent county prosecutor’s ruling.

    April 21, 2014

  • Gender gap under Ohio governor nearly $10 an hour

    A newspaper investigation has found the average pay gap between men and women in the offices of four of Ohio’s five elected statewide officials has grown to as much as almost $10 an hour, as it’s shrunk to under a dollar across the rest of state government.

    April 21, 2014

  • OBIT Rubin Carter Box_Lind.jpg Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76

    Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, died Sunday. He was 76.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MAG-kramer25p-Janae-O-Neal.jpg Kramer the labradoodle soothes students, staff at middle school

    Once upon a time there was a dog that went to middle school.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ohio sees record high heroin overdose deaths

    A record number of Ohioans died from heroin-related overdoses in 2012, the state Department of Health said as it released the newest available figures for a problem that’s been called an epidemic and a public health crisis.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Ohio’s jobless rate dips to 6.1 percent in March

    Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped in March to 6.1 percent, its lowest level in six years, according to state job figures released Friday.

    April 19, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video