By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A federal magistrate judge
has agreed to delay the trials of eight former Pilot Travel executives
for 18 months due to the complexity of the case.
Bruce Guyton Tuesday set an Oct. 24, 2017 date for the former Pilot
employees including its one time president and a top sales vice
Guyton agreed to the delay at the request of lawyers
for the eight defendants who were indicted last month following a
multi-year investigation. The decision followed a status hearing in U.S.
District Court in Knoxville, Tenn.
The indictments stem from a
probe that first became public on April 15, 2013 when federal agents
raided the truck stop chain's Knoxville headquarters.
10 Pilot executives and sales employees entered guilty pleas to mail
and wire fraud charges related to a widespread scheme to cheat
unsuspecting truckers out of promised diesel fuel rebates.
Those charged last month include former Pilot President Mark Hazelwood and Vice President John Freeman.
charged was the company's top executive James A. Haslam, owner of the
Cleveland Browns. Haslam, brother of Tennessee Governor William Haslam,
has denied any knowledge of the rebate skimming scheme.
it has settled civil suits with dozens of trucking firms at a cost of
$84 million, Pilot is still facing suits in Alabama and Ohio filed by
truckers who refused to accept a court approved settlement.
Pilot also paid $92 million to settle claims with the federal government.
Still other suits have been filed against Pilot in Florida and Tennessee recently charging that the company routinely placed excessive holds on trucking company credit cards.