Friday, December 16, 2016
Haslam Declines to Release Testimony
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Citing "confidential" information, Cleveland Browns owner James A. "Jimmy" Haslam apparently will not authorize the release of the transcript of his recent closed door testimony in a suit brought by truckers against the Haslam family owned truck stop firm.
Following the Tuesday eight-hour session, lawyers for the trucking companies disclosed that Haslam had agreed to testify only if his testimony would be kept secret. They challenged Haslam to authorize the release of his testimony.
Asked this week if Haslam would allow his testimony to be made public, his attorney, Stephen Brody responded by citing confidential information apparently contained in Haslam's testimony.
"Mr. Haslam's deposition addressed information designated as confidential or highly confidential and restricted from disclosure pursuant to the courts' protective orders governing discovery in the pending civil cases," Brody said in a written response.
Haslam's testimony is the latest development in a suit brought by two trucking companies against Pilot Travel Centers, the Haslam family owned truck stop chain. HB Logistics and FST Express filed the suit in Franklin County Ohio court charging Pilot had cheated them out of millions of dollars in promised diesel fuel rebates.
In a statement issued following the deposition Haslam told reporters he couldn't comment on his testimony because it was confidential.
Charles Cooper, one of the trucking company reporters responded by charging that it was Haslam himself who demanded his testimony be kept secret.
"We can't discuss it (Haslam's testimony) because Mr. Haslam insisted that his testimony be sealed and therefore shielded from public view," Cooper said. "If Jimmy Haslam has nothing to hide, we encourage him to instruct his lawyer to make his testimony today public."
Haslam has insisted that he did not know of the now very public scheme by top Pilot sales officials to cheat unsuspecting truckers out of promised diesel fuel rebates.
In addition to the pending suit in Ohio, Pilot is being sued on similar charges in federal court in Alabama.
The rebate scheme, first made public following an FBI raid on Pilot's Knoxville, Tenn. headquarters, has been costly for the truck stop giant. A class action civil suit was settled for $85 million. Similar claims by the federal government for $92 million.
Ten former Pilot sales staffers have entered guilty pleas on mail and wire fraud charges stemming from the federal probe. Eight others have entered guilty pleas and are scheduled for trial next year.