Jury finds former Pilot Flying J president guilty of fraud, conspiracy and witness tampering

A federal jury Thursday convicted the former president Pilot Flying J, the nation’s largest diesel fuel retailer, in a plot to rip off truckers to boost both his own bottom line and that of the company, reports the News Sentinel.

A five-woman, seven-man jury in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga deemed former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood guilty of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and witness tampering.

The same jury acquitted former Vice President Scott “Scooter” Wombold of the conspiracy charge, of lying to the FBI and two counts of fraud. The jury instead convicted Wombold of a single count of wire fraud.

Former Pilot Flying J account representative Heather Jones was convicted on the conspiracy charge but acquitted of four individual acts of fraud.

The jury set former Pilot Flying J account representative Karen Mann free entirely, acquitting her of the sole conspiracy charge she faced.

The quartet had been standing trial since November on charges they — along with at least 16 other former Pilot Flying J sales executives and staffers — conspired to boost Pilot Flying J’s market share and profits, as well as their own cut of those profits, by luring trucking companies to do business with the truck stop giant with discounts on diesel fuel they never intended to fully pay.

…Pilot Flying J Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Haslam, who also owns the Cleveland Browns, has denied knowledge of the fraud scheme and is not charged.

Pilot Flying J issued a statement within minutes of the announcement of the verdicts Thursday in which the firm noted it had repaid trucking firms, accepted criminal responsibility, “cooperated fully with the government’s investigation and made policy, procedure and staff changes to make certain nothing like this ever happens again.”

“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,” the statement read

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