Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pilot Criminal Trials Delayed 18 Months

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.
U.S. Magistrate Bruce Guyton Tuesday set an Oct. 24, 2017 date for the former Pilot employees including its one time president and a top sales vice president.
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.
 Subsequently 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.
Not 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.
Although 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.

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