Pilot Flying J Probe Continues After Almost Two Years

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A federal probe of Pilot Flying J over alleged diesel fuel rebate fraud remains ongoing nearly two years after federal officials raided the company's Knoxville headquarters, reported the Knoxville News Sentinel.

"The status of this matter remains unchanged," federal prosecutors David Lewen and Trey Hamilton wrote to U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar in a joint motion to delay sentencing. "Due to this status report, neither party is requesting the court to schedule a sentencing date in [these cases] at this time."

In the motion, filed Tuesday, Lewen and Hamilton requested that Thapar set a June 24 deadline for the next status update. Anonymous sources told News Net 5 that this could mean prosecutors need more time to review evidence that could lead to more indictments.

Prosecutors have sent "target letters" to former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood, former Vice President of Sales John Freeman and Senior Accounts Manager Karen Crutchman alerting them that they are under investigation.

In 10 other cases, former Pilot Flying J employees have pleaded guilty to their roles in a plan to siphon off fuel rebates owed to trucking companies, according to the report. Charges include mail and wire fraud. Their plea deals require the defendants to cooperate with the federal probe.

This update comes weeks after Thapar requested more information on the business arrangement between Pilot Flying J and several trucking companies, as CSNews Online previously reported.

Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam has denied any knowledge of the fuel rebate fraud. In 2014, the retailer reached a deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office to avoid criminal charges against the company by paying a $92-million penalty over two years and cooperating with the investigation.

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

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