Monday, June 27, 2016
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A former Pilot Flying J sales executive, who is under federal indictment, is asking an Ohio judge to issue a protective order barring a truck company from taking his deposition.
John Spiewak, who once served as an Ohio regional manager for the Knoxville based truck stop chain, says it would be inefficient for him to be deposed when he already has filed a motion to be dismissed from the pending suit.
Lawyers for FST Express, meanwhile, say that Spiewak's testimony is critical in pursuing the claim that Pilot cheated the transportation firm out of millions of dollars in promised diesel fuel rebates.
The crossfire is the latest development in the remaining civil suits filed against Pilot following disclosure of a federal grand jury probe of Pilot's rebate practices. Another suit is pending in Alabama.
Spiewak is one of eight Pilot executives to be indicted earlier this year on mail and wire fraud charges as a result of that federal probe. Ten other former Pilot officials already have entered guilty pleas to related charges and await sentencing. Spiewak has entered a not guilty plea.
In addition to the claim of inefficiency, Spiewak's lawyers cited a May 4 order in the case, which they claim put the entire case on hold.
FST's lawyers, however, dispute the contention that the order halted all proceedings.
"Spiewak intentionally misled and concealed from FST that Pilot was not using actual cost when calculating cost-plus discounts," the most recent filing states.
"The importance of Defendant Spiewak's deposition can not be understated. He is a critical figure in the fraudulent conduct at the center of this litigation," the FST filing states.
Spiewak's lawyer, however, argued that if his pending dismissal motion were to be granted, there would no longer be any need for his deposition.
Pilot already has paid out some $175 million to settle claims from truckers who claim they were cheated out of promised rebates. That figure includes a $92 million settlement with the federal government.