CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Secret recordings of a defendant uttering racial epithets are threatening to disrupt the federal fraud trial of former executives and sales staffers at the truck stop chain controlled by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.
With the trial about to take a monthlong recess for the holidays, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports that U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Collier said that he would allow prosecutors to present the recordings of former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood using what he called "vile, despicable, inflammatory racial epithets," and disparaging the city of Cleveland and its pro football team.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys say they will research whether those comments are inflammatory enough to warrant separate trials for Hazelwood's co-defendants.
The trial resumes Jan. 8.