Friday, November 18, 2016
Jimmy Haslam Deposition Set for Dec. 13
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Cleveland Browns owner James A. "Jimmy" Haslam will be questioned under oath on Dec. 13 on his knowledge of a rebate skimming scheme by sales executives at the Haslam family owned truck stop firm Pilot Flying J.
According to a notice filed in Franklin County Ohio court the deposition will take place in Knoxville, Tenn. and will be videotaped. It will be conducted at the law offices of Ritchie, Dillard, Davies & Johnson beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Haslam has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the multi-million dollar scheme, but he has never been questioned under oath.
Aubrey Harwell, a Nashville, Tenn. attorney who has represented the trucking firm, said in an email response to questions that Haslam would comply with any lawfully executed subpoena. Earlier this week a Pilot spokeswoman acknowledged that negotiations over a Haslam deposition were ongoing.
The deposition comes in a suit by two trucking firms, HB Logistics and FST Express, against Pilot, the largest truck stop firm in the country. They contend they are owed millions of dollars in promised rebates.
Haslam at first refused to agree to a deposition, but later said he would agree only if a series of conditions were met, including a time limit and final action on a related federal lawsuit.
HB and FST are two of the three trucking firms still pursuing the recovery of promised rebates on the purchase of diesel fuel which they claim were never paid. A third is pending in Mobile, Ala.
Ten former Pilot sales executives have entered guilty pleas to charges of mail and wire fraud as a result of a federal probe of the rebate scheme. Eight others have been indicted and are scheduled for trial next year. All eight have entered not guilty pleas.
Pilot already has paid some $175 million to settle claims by truckers and the federal government as a result of the investigation, which first became public when the FBI conducted a raid on Pilot's Knoxville headquarters on April 15, 2013.
According to a lengthy FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Pilot routinely cheated truckers out of promised rebates. Details of the scheme were learned from informants who secretly tape recorded sales meetings where the scheme was openly discussed.