On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced two additional Pilot Flying J employees to prison.
Senior U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier Jr. sentenced former Pilot Flying J Vice President Scott Wombold was sentenced to 6 years in prison and former regional account representative Heather Jones was sentenced to 43 months.
According to WKYC, Wombold’s attorney claimed that Wolbold was “sickened” by the scheme and was being “pushed out” by management. Wombold’s attorney claimed that his client’s crime was that of keeping quiet about the scheme.
“Scott Wombold should have stepped up to the plate and done something,” Wombold’s attorney, Eli Richardson said. “There’s no indication he was fine with this, that he was inclined to do this. There’s no evidence he would ever do this again … Other folks were profiting from it. There’s no evidence of greed. There’s no evidence of him being a greedy person … Mr. Wombold did not behave in the callous way some others did.”
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Hamilton disagreed and presented the court with transcripts from a Pilot Flying J sales meeting. In the transcript, Wombold “provided rationalization” for the scheme. The transcript entails how Wombold listened to Mosher describe how to fleece carriers and even “encouraged a reluctant sales man to ‘get your mind comfortable with it.”
“Mr. Wombold gives words of encouragement and an acknowledgement this was an acceptable way to treat customers. Making these statements, having the title of vice president, you can’t separate the two. It gives extra weight to his response,” WKYC reported.
Former regional account representative Heather Jones’ attorney argued that Jones had questioned Mosher on whether or not what the company was doing was legal and that Mosher had assured Jones that it was.
“She was instructed to do something by her supervisor,” Jones’ attorney Ben Vernia said. “She had the great misfortune of working for the most prolific fraudster … She’s been through quite a lot already. She made a mistake in thinking what she was asked to do was acceptable.”
Collier responded that Jones was a “mature person” with a degree who should have known the difference between right and wrong. Collier said that Jones paid a key role in the scheme by faking numbers in order to sway businesses to join the fuel discount program.
The judge acknowledged that he didn’t think Jones participated in the scheme for monetary reasons, “I think you wanted to fit in…to maintain your position…your job, but that’s no excuse,” Collier said.
Collier and Jones will remain free until January.
In September, former Pilot Flying J president Mark Hazelwood was sentenced to 150 months in prison. To date, more than 19 former Pilot Flying J executives and staff have admitted to or been convicted of participating in the scheme to fleece small carriers. Of those, 14 have pleaded guilty and two have been granted immunity. Four have gone to trial so far.
Collier is still in the process of deciding the fates of all who have been convicted or who have pleaded guilty.
In total, the scheme is said to have cost small carriers $56 million.