Pilot Flying J strikes deal, avoids prosecution
The business owned and operated by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has struck a deal with prosecutors.
Pilot Flying J has announced that it's reached a deal with federal prosecutors where the company won't be prosecuted during an investigation into alleged widespread deisel fuel rebate fraud.
The company has to pay a $92 million penalty and cooperate with the investigation.
“We, as a company, look forward to putting this whole unfortunate episode behind us, continuing our efforts to rectify the damage done, regaining our customers’ trust, and getting on with our business,” Haslam said in a statement. “We’ve been committed from the beginning of this to doing the right thing, and that remains our commitment.”
The U.S. Attorney announced the deal: "expressly states that it provides no protection from prosecution to any individual, and moreover, imposes a continuing obligation on Pilot to provide complete cooperation with the ongoing federal investigation of current and former Pilot employees relating to fraudulent conduct involving the sale of diesel fuel.”
Ten former employees have pleaded guilty to charges to allegedly engaging in fraudulent conduct in deceptively withholding diesel fuel price discounts from hundreds of customers.
Pilot has accepted legal responsibility for the criminal conduct of its employees, which caused more than $56 million in loss to its customers, and agreed to pay full restitution to every victim of the fraud.
Pilot further acknowledged the gravity of its employees’ criminal wrongdoing by agreeing to pay the United States a $92 million monetary penalty – an amount within the fine range recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
“The terms of this agreement, including the significant monetary penalty and the very serious consequences if Pilot fails to comply, demonstrate quite clearly that no corporation, no matter how big, influential, or wealthy, is above the law. In addition, the company’s agreement to fully cooperate with the United States, including its obligation to identify its employees’ criminal conduct, will assist the ongoing federal investigation," U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said. "The agreement ensures that Pilot’s extensive remediation efforts will continue until all trucking company victims have received full restitution and until Pilot has demonstrated to the United States that it has implemented sufficient internal controls to prevent this kind of fraudulent conduct from ever occurring again.”
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun