A former Pilot Flying J executive is claiming that federal agents who raided the company’s headquarters as part of the trucking rebate scandal were rude and intimidating towards Pilot employees.
In a U.S. District Court, attorneys for former vice president of direct sales for Pilot Scott Wombed and sales staffer Heather Jones are making the case that federal agents may have trampled on their rights during the raid.
Until now, many of the details of the April 2013 raid have been kept under wraps. As many in the trucking industry know, Pilot came under fire for conspiring to dupe trucking companies out of diesel fuel rebates that they were promised. Ten Pilot employees have already pled guilty and another eight are currently facing charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in the alleged rebate scam.
Attorneys for Wombed have issued court documents related to the impending trial that describe the scenes of the raid as “chaos.” Wombed’s legal representatives claim that federal agents stormed into the building with guns drawn and “incited, for example, screaming and crying by Pilot inside sales representatives, who sat in cubicles in the interior of the building, surrounded by exterior offices including Mr. Wombold’s.”
Jones’s attorneys described a similarly intimidating scene: “At one point, an employee reached to throw away an empty yogurt container from her desk and was yelled at by an agent for having moved at all. Other employees were ordered to ‘shut up’ when they began whispering to each other. Employees were permitted to use the restroom only when escorted there and back by armed agents. For approximately fifteen minutes, all employees within Ms. Jones’s work area were kept, guarded by agents, silently standing with their hands on their heads.”
Wombed’s attorneys also claimed that agents mocked his request for a lawyer: “One of the interrogating agents responded by telling Mr. Wombold something like, ‘this is not a TV show’ or ‘you have been watching too much TV,’ and asserting essentially that as federal agents they did not have to allow the intervention of counsel and that Mr. Wombold needed to answer their questions without counsel.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Hamilton denies these claims. He says that agents kept their guns holstered and behaved professionally during the raid. He denied any accusations of rudeness and said even Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam described the raid as “professional.”
The case is set to go to trial in the fall of 2017.