Report: Jimmy Haslam Heard On Secret Recording Discussing Fraud Scam

(Knoxville) - While Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has been mentioned by others multiple times in the ongoing trial of former Pilot Flying J executives, Tuesday marked the first time his voice was heard on tape in court discussing the massive rebate fraud scheme for which so many sales people and executives have been accused, and pleaded guilty.

In a Facebook post (above) Jamie Satterfield with the Knoxville News Sentinel described the secret FBI recording, in which Haslam can be heard discussing the scam with former Pilot Flying J president Mark Hazelwood.  "It was detailed how you commit fraud at one of the sessions. It's not clear from this recording exactly which session that Jimmy Haslam was in, but as Mark Hazelwood was discussing a move to expand to get more business from smaller trucking companies, and he was describing a competitor's situation and saying that the competitor would offer a discount to these smaller trucking companies and that Pilot would be able to undercut them, but not pay them the full amount that they promised." 

Satterfield quotes Haslam as saying on the tape "sounds like Stick's old deal with Western." Satterfield said Haslam's comment is referencing former Pilot Flying J vice president of sales John "Stick" Freeman, who was caught in a similar scam, and as a result, Pilot bought a worthless plane from Western Express, for $1 million.  After the comment about "Stick," Hazelwood said on the tape "we're going to introduce them to a guy named Manuel."  "Manuel" was the code name used among sales people for the rebate scam.  Satterfield said the code referenced the manual entering of data to cheat companies, but was also used because many of the owners of the trucking companies Pilot ripped off were Hispanic.

Haslam has not been charged and has denied any knowledge of the rebate scam, however, 14 employees have pleaded guilty and two have been granted immunity.  Pilot paid a $92 million fine in 2014 and accepted responsibility for the criminal conduct of its employees.  Mark Hazelwood and several others are currently on trial.

(Photo by Joe Robbins / Getty)

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