Friday, April 29, 2016
Haslam Still Must Testify on Rebates
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Cleveland Browns owner James A. Haslam 3rd still must undergo sworn questioning about his truck stop firm's rebate practices and the questions may come from four truckers, not just one.
Alabama Judge Sarah Hicks Stewart Friday denied Haslam's request to halt a scheduled May deposition on charges from Wright Transportation that Pilot Flying J routinely cheated truckers out of promised rebates. Meanwhile an Ohio judge is considering a motion that would allow lawyers for three other trucking firms to question Haslam at the same time.
The action comes in the four remaining civil cases filed against Pilot by trucking firms who opted out of a class action settlement with the truck stop chain with an $84 million price tag.
The suits stem from the disclosure of a federal grand jury investigation of charges that Pilot sales executives routinely shaved millions of dollars in rebates promised to high volume diesel fuel purchasers.
Haslam, who has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the rebate scheme, had sought to have the May deposition called off, contending his testimony was not required.
In Franklin County Ohio, FST Express, HB Logistics and Dick Lavy Trucking have asked a judge to order Haslam's testimony on their parallel claims of rebate fraud. The motion was filed this week.
Ten former Pilot sales staffers already have entered guilty pleas to mail and wire fraud charges stemming from the federal probe. Another eight were indicted earlier this year and await trial. They have all entered not guilty pleas.
In addition to the $84 million paid to settle the class action suit, Pilot has paid $92 million to settle related charges with the federal government.