Judge says no: Pilot Flying J ex-president to spend Christmas behind bars

A former Pilot Flying J executive convicted for defrauding truckers will be spending Christmas in a prison cell in spite of his request to spend the holiday with his family.

This week, a U.S. District Judge denied 59 year old former Pilot Flying J president Mark Hazelwood’s plea to spend the Christmas and New Years holidays with his family before he reports to prison to serve a twelve and a half year sentence, according to Knox News.

Hazelwood’s legal team argued that Hazelwood ought to be allowed to spend Christmas at home because he is a “devout Christian” with “deeply held religious beliefs.”

U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier wasn’t buying the argument and denied the request, ordering Hazelwood to report to prison on November 26, meaning that he will be able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday at home with his family, but definitely not Christmas.

“If the court attempted to set (prison) dates that did not conflict with any religious holidays, it would be unable to set any dates at all. Easter, the most important Christian religious holiday, would come just a few short months after Christmas,” Collier said.

Judge Collier said that lawyers did not show that Hazelwood had “any religious — as opposed to family — needs regarding Christmas that the Bureau of Prisons would not be able to accommodate.”

On September 26, Hazelwood was sentenced to 150 months in prison and fined $750,000 after he was found guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud related to a scheme designed to dupe truckers out of promised diesel fuel rebates.

The fuel rebate scam cost small trucking companies over $50 million.