Jury Returns Verdicts in Pilot Flying J Rebate Case
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Three former Pilot Flying J employees have been convicted of charges related to fraud in the company's fuel rebate program following approximately four days of jury deliberations. The trial began in November in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga.
Mark Hazelwood, former Pilot Flying J president, and former account representative Heather Jones were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Scott "Scooter" Wombold, former company vice president, was convicted of one count of wire fraud. However, Wombold and former account representative Karen Mann were found not guilty of conspiracy, reported the Times Free Press.
Hazelwood was also convicted of wire fraud and witness tampering, but was found not guilty of one count of wire fraud. Wombold was also acquitted on two counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements to federal agents. Jones was found not guilty of four counts of wire fraud.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 27, according to the report.
Wombold's defense team plans to explore options for appeal of the one count on which he was convicted.
"All along, Mr. Wombold desired only to be judged by a jury of his peers at trial," said John Kelly, attorney for Wombold, in a statement. "Today, having done exactly that, he stands vindicated on six of seven counts."
The fraud case came to light in April 2013, when the FBI raided Pilot Flying J's Knoxville headquarters, as CSNews Online reported.
"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 released statement.
To date, 14 former Pilot Flying J employees have pleaded guilty to various charges and are awaiting sentencing by U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier. Some testified during the trial.
Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J has more than 750 retail locations in 44 states