Yesterday Pilot Flying J President Jimmy Haslam spent eight hours under oath in an airline hanger answering questions about his knowledge of the scheme to defraud truckers of promised rebates on diesel fuel.
Trucking Companies Press A Reluctant Haslam To Sit For Deposition
Three trucking companies that refused to settle with the Knoxville-based company filed suit against Pilot Flying J, claiming that they would be shortchanged by the class action settlement. Their suit also claims that Haslam is lying about his knowledge of the scheme.
The trucking companies have been pressing to have Haslam sit for deposition for months.
While Haslam has personally never been charged in relation to the scandal, he has been reluctant to sit for deposition but was ordered to do so by an Ohio judge in November.
Yesterday’s videotaped deposition took place in a conference room at the Knoxville Pilot Aviation hangar.
Attorney: Haslam Insisted On Keeping Deposition From Public View
The deposition was not open to the public and Attorney Chip Cooper who represents the trucking companies says that Haslam is working to keep a transcript of the eight-hour court proceedings under wraps: “Regrettably, we can’t discuss the substance of Mr. Haslam’s testimony today. We can’t discuss it because Mr. Haslam insisted that his testimony be sealed and therefore shielded from public view. We plan to address this with the court in Ohio, and we encourage the press to do the same.”
Haslam later released a statement on the deposition: “As I have said throughout this ordeal, I knew nothing about the misconduct of some of our former employees. I wish I could discuss this entire matter freely with you today and answer your questions as I did the plaintiffs.”
Hallam’s lawyer stated: “This entire exercise today was nothing more than an effort by the plaintiffs to harass the company into a windfall settlement.”
2013 FBI Raid: Pilot Employees Said Truckers Were Lazy, Unsophisticated
The 2013 scandal was ignited when an FBI raid of the company’s headquarters reportedly uncovered evidence that the company had willfully plotted to cheat truckers out of promised rebates. In secretly recorded conversations, Pilot employees made comments about how the trucking companies were lazy, unsophisticated, and unworthy of the promised rebate money.
Pilot Flying J settled with 5,500 trucking companies for $85 million and paid out another $92 million in federal penalties.
Ten Pilot executives have already pled guilty on charges relating to the scandal and several others will stand trial in federal court next year.
In addition to being President of Pilot Flying J, Haslam is also the owner of the 0-13 Cleveland Browns.