Haslam “loved” ripping off truckers, says former Pilot Flying J exec

"I mean, (Haslam) knew all along that I was cost-plussin’ this guy. He knew it all along. Loved it."

Pilot Flying J

Yesterday, jurors in Chatanooga heard a secret recording featuring Pilot Flying J’s former vice president of sales claiming that not only was company owner Jimmy Haslam aware of the scheme to dupe truckers out of promised diesel fuel rebates, but that he “loved it.”

Former Pilot Flying J president Mark Hazelwood and three other former employees are standing trial in a federal court on charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud following a 2013 federal raid of company headquarters. The alleged scheme involved Pilot Flying J employees making false promises to deliver fuel rebates to truckers who they believed were too unsophisticated to notice that they were being conned. Fourteen of the eighteen people charged in the matter have pled guilty.

Secret Recording Captures Former VP Of Sales Talking About Getting Caught Cheating Western Express

Yesterday, attorneys representing Hazelwood played a secret recording created by Vincent Greco, former Pilot Flying J director of sales for the western region, at the request of federal authorities including the FBI. The recording was made in a hotel lobby in 2013 just weeks before federal agents raided Pilot Flying J headquarters in April of that year. Though transcripts of the recording have been made public, this is the first time that the audio recording had been heard publicly.

In the recording, vice president of sales John “Stick” Freeman (and alleged “architect” of the rebate fraud scheme) said that Haslam “knew – absolutely” about the fraud and that he “loved it.

In the recording, Freeman talks about being found out by trucking company Western Express for the rebate fraud: “(Expletive) I mean, I called Jimmy and told him I got busted at Western Express … He knew – absolutely. I mean, (Haslam) knew all along that I was cost-plussin’ (code for the fraud scheme) this guy. He knew it all along. Loved it. We were making $450,000 a month on (Western Express).

Pilot Flying J reportedly smoothed over relations with Western Express by purchasing an old airplane from the company for $1 million.

Haslam has not been charged and has denied any knowledge of the rebate scheme for years. Yesterday Pilot issued the following statement: “Jimmy Haslam was not aware of any wrongdoing.

Pilot Flying J has already paid out $92 million in restitution after the board of directors admitted to the scheme along with $85 million to the trucking companies that sued after news of the scheme became public.

The trial is expected to last into December.