Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Truckers Seek Pilot Fraud "Paper Trail"
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Ohio trucking companies want a judge to order Pilot Flying J to turn over computer files they claim will provide a "paper trail" of fraudulent transactions used to cheat them out of millions of dollars in promised diesel fuel rebates.
In a motion filed this week in Franklin County court, lawyers for the three firms are asking the judge to compel Pilot to turn over the records of a computer software program called "SalesForce," which provides details on the handling of Pilot's rebates.
"SalesForce entries expressly detail the fraud scheme," the motion states.
The motion to compel is one of the latest developments in the handful of remaining civil cases against the truck stop firm stemming from a federal investigation that already has produced guilty pleas from 10 former Pilot sales staffers.
Pilot, meanwhile, is asking the same Ohio judge to deny another motion by the trucking firms to depose Pilot's top executive James A. Haslam 3rd.
In the motion to force the disclosure of computer records, the trucking firms, HB Logistics, FST Express and Dick Lavy Trucking, argue that the data will show the specific involvement of two former Pilot executives, John Freeman and John Spiewak, who dealt with their accounts.
"Sales Force contains a paper trail of the fraudulent statements Pilot employees made to customers," the motion states.
"With so many Pilot employees telling so many lies to so many customers, Pilot needed an up-to-date tool to track the lies," the motion adds.
Thus far, according to court documents, Pilot has refused to provide the data contending that it contains information not relevant to the three companies and that compliance would be overly burdensome.
The truckers contend that the damages suffered from the fraud claims alone total an estimated $1.9 million.
In addition to the Ohio cases, Pilot is facing a suit in Alabama filed by Wright Transportation. In that case a judge in Mobile is scheduled to hear arguments on May 13 on Pilot motions to end the suit.
The judge, however, has denied a motion by Haslam's attorneys to rescind an order that he undergo a deposition.