Pilot Flying J Departures Continue

More employees leave scandal-plagued truckstop company

Pilot Flying J truckstops diesel rebate scandal (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- In the midst of a federal probe into rebate fraud charges, three more employees of Pilot Flying J have left the company and two others have been placed on administrative leave, reported The Tennessean, citing a source with direct knowledge of the developments. The additional departures came to light a day after the nationwide travel center chain lost its longtime president, Mark Hazelwood.

Now sales director Kevin Hanscomb, and Joe Sigurdson and Ron Carter, who worked remotely for the company in Canada, have also left, according to the newspaper.

Hanscomb figured prominently in a 120-page federal affidavit filed in federal court after an April 15, 2013, raid on Pilot's Knoxville, Tenn., headquarters, said the report.

Two other employees, Karen Mann and Heather Jones, were placed on administrative leave. Both worked as account representatives.

None of the five have been charged, but 10 other former Pilot employees have already entered guilty pleas to mail or wire fraud charges.

John Kelly, the attorney for yet another Pilot executive who left Pilot this week, Scott Wombold, vice president for national accounts, issued a statement saying that his client's departure after 22 years with the company was not connected "to past guilty pleas entered into by former employees."

"Mr. Wombold is grateful for the opportunity to have worked at Pilot Flying J and will assist the company appropriately through this transition," Kelly told the paper.

Click here to read the full Tennessean report.

On April 15, 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) raided Pilot Flying J's Knoxville headquarters, beginning an investigation into an alleged scheme perpetrated by some members of the company's sales staff to withhold rebates owed to customers for contacted diesel fuel purchases. About a dozen participants have pleaded guilty to fraud and are cooperating with the authorities.

Pilot Flying J reached an $85 million settlement with hundreds of trucking customers who were affected by the alleged fraud. The company has agreed to repay any amounts owed plus 6% interest; however, more than a dozen companies are pursuing lawsuits outside of the settlement, and Pilot Flying J is seeking to consolidate the pretrial proceedings in several cases.

In January, a federal judge dismissed racketeering and deceptive trade practices charges against the company.

Pilot Flying J has more than 650 retail locations and is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America. Haslam owns the Cleveland Brown football team.

Part of CSP's 2014 Convenience Top 101 retailers