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Verdict In on Pilot Flying J Rebate Fraud Case

Company reaffirms commitment to customers, trucking companies

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Jurors have reached a verdict in the federal trial of four former Pilot Flying J employees accused of taking part in a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat some trucking customers out of promised fuel rebates, reported WBIR-TV.

Mark Hazelwood, former Pilot president; Scott Wombold, a former vice president; and Heather Jones and Karen Mann, who worked in direct sales at Pilot's headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., were indicted by a Knoxville, Tenn., grand jury in February 2016 on multiple counts.

The jury, which reached a verdict on Feb. 15, 2018, in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, Tenn., found Hazelwood and Jones guilty of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud; it found Wombold and Mann not guilty.

The jury found Hazelwood guilty on one count and not guilty on one count of wire fraud; Wombold guilty on one count, not guilty on two counts of wire fraud; and Jones not guilty on four counts of wire fraud.

The jury found Hazelwood guilty on one count of witness tampering.

And the jury found Wombold not guilty on three counts of making false statements to federal agents. Mann was found not guilty of the single count against her on that charge.

The judge set a sentencing date for June 27 for Hazelwood, Wombold and Jones, said the report.

Pilot Flying J is taking the verdict as an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to its customers and its business going forward.

"Our focus has been on the customers. Nearly five years ago upon learning of the improper transactions, we made whole every customer negatively affected, entered into a Criminal Enforcement Agreement with the government, cooperated fully with the government’s investigation, and made policy, procedure and staff changes to make certain nothing like this ever happens again,” Pilot Flying J said in a statement provided to CSP Daily News. “At Pilot Flying J, we remain committed to being a great partner to trucking companies across North America and serving our customers, team members and business partners.”

Federal agents raided Pilot Flying J's headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., in April 2013.

Pilot Flying J agreed to pay $92 million in fines and accept responsibility for the criminal conduct of its employees while the government agreed not to prosecute the company. The agreement required Pilot Flying J to comply with several conditions, including cooperation in the investigation of people who may have been involved in the fraud. It did not protect any individual from prosecution.

Most of the lawsuits against Pilot Flying J were resolved by a class-action settlement, in which the company agreed to pay out nearly $85 million to 5,500 customers.

Pilot Flying J CEO and Cleveland Browns football team owner Jimmy Haslam has denied any knowledge of the scheme and has not been charged with any crime.

Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Pilot Flying J has more than 750 retail locations in 43 states.

Watch for details on CSP Daily News.

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