Eight former Pilot Flying J employees indicted

Eight former Pilot Flying J employees indicted

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The former president of Pilot Flying J, Mark Hazelwood was indicted Tuesday.

He faces charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and witness tampering.

Federal authorities argue Pilot promised fuel rebates to trucking customers but never actually paid them out.

The U.S. District Court's indictment in Knoxville also named former employees Scott Wombold, John Freeman, Vicki Borden, John Spiewak, Katy Bibbe, Heather Jones and Karen Mann. Freeman, the former director and vice president of the direct sales division, was deeply involved in the rebate scheme, according to federal authorities.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was not among those indicted. He has always said he knew nothing about the scheme that authorities say defrauded trucking customers of rebates of more than $56 million.

Hazelwood pleaded not guilty during a court appearance Tuesday.

According to the indictment his compensation was tied to the profitability of diesel fuel sales at the company.

The initial story broke shortly after Jimmy Haslam bought the Browns.

The charges came to light after federal authorities raided Pilot J's corporate headquarters in Knoxville in 2013. The alleged conspiracy took place between Feb. 1, 2008, and April 2013.

Pilot Flying J issued the following statement:

 "We're obviously disappointed and saddened by today's events but cannot comment further on any matters which are part of the ongoing investigation.  We can say that since this unfortunate episode began, the company has put in place policies and procedures unparalleled in the industry to prevent anything like this from happening again.

"The company has cooperated with the investigation since its beginning and will continue to do so. The company repaid affected customers, accepted legal responsibility, and agreed to pay a monetary penalty. The trust and confidence of Pilot Flying J's customers continues to be of paramount importance to the company and their continued support and loyalty is very much appreciated."

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