Pilot Flying J CEO Sets Record Straight With Trucking Industry

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Pilot Flying J CEO Sets Record Straight With Trucking Industry


INDIANAPOLIS -- One month after coming under scrutiny for alleged fuel rebate fraud, Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam said today he didn't know of any inconsistencies in the program.

"Absolutely not. I will say absolutely not," Haslam told a group of trucking company executives in Indianapolis this morning. "I was not aware of any of this."

Haslam addressed the crowd at the two-day seminar held by Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary, a law firm serving the transportation industry, but did not take questions. However, the firm collected questions from clients and sent 18 of them to Haslam prior the meeting.

According to Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, Haslam explained that a review underway by auditors shows that approximately 250 trucking companies out of 400 were on a "manual" fuel rebate program and hence may have problems with their rebates. That's out of approximately 5,000 trucking company customers served by Pilot Flying J.

Haslam called the initial assessment "a little fluid" because auditors are still digging into what transpired.

"I apologize for the actions of our people. And I want to look everyone in the eye and say we'll do everything we can to make things right," Haslam said.

Haslam, who is also majority owner of the National Football League's Cleveland Browns, said in a brief interview after his address that "unfortunately, there were some things that happened a couple of levels below me" at Pilot Flying J that he missed.

"It's a blip. It may be a substantial blip. But in no way, shape or form does it affect my ownership of the Browns," he stressed.

His remarks came a day after Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh's law firm, according to The Associated Press. Plaintiffs' attorney Mark Tate said Freeh has agreed to work on the lawsuit.

Pilot Flying J is facing several legal actions as a result of an FBI and Internal Revenue Service raid on its headquarters on April 15. To date, six lawsuits have been filed, as CSNews Online previously reported.

Pilot Flying J operates more than 650 retail locations and is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America.