Editor's Note: This story contains language that may be offensive to some.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A federal judge has ordered the release of secret audio recordings that court filings say document former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood using racial epithets in addition to criticizing the company's board of directors and the NFL team owned by the CEO Jimmy Haslam.
U.S. District Court Judge Curtis L. Collier ordered the release of documents, recordings and motions the decision to allow the jurors in the case of conspiracy, wire fraud and witness tampering against Hazelwood and other top executives of Pilot Flying J in two orders made Wednesday.
It was agreed upon that the recordings would be played for jurors for consideration if Hazelwood had sound business judgment, whether or not he would engage in conduct that would put Pilot Travel Centers in jeopardy if discovered and if he possessed, "authentic humanitarian good will towards the entire community of over-the-road truck drivers".
An additional condition was that the recordings were to used only in consideration of the charges against Hazelwood, not any of the other employees charged or present when the recordings were made.
In a recording made on October 25, 2012, Hazelwood can be heard talking to former Pilot Flying J sales executives John Freeman and Brian Mosher. The following is a transcript of that conversation:
Hazelwood: Hey, where's the "Greasy n****r?" Where's our "Greasy n****r" song?
Freeman: I got it
Hazelwood: That's Russel's favorite song in life. I had no idea our little first mate was married to a n****r.
Freeman: Yeah, well (unintelligble)
Hazelwood: Well, was. All I gotta say is, "You can't trust those little n****r b**ches."
In another conversation with sales executive Arnie Ralenkotter on October 25, 2012, Hazelwood talks about the Cleveland Browns uniforms.
Hazelwood: I said, "Well," I said, "You know who's number one, who hadn't won in 20 years, number one in off, off-field sales? The Browns are second to last." You know who's number one?
Hazelwood: They're two. Raiders.
I said, "Who buys the Raiders' s**t?"
I said, "You think they're gona wear somethin' that says the f**kin' Browns on it?" (Laughter)
Ralenkotter: Maybe you oughta put "Da Browns" on it.
Hazelwood: I said, "No, you get that damn dog pound and you get a mean ass f**kin' junk yard f**kin dog, and start marketing a mean ass f**kin' dog on that son b**ch, with a f**kin' chain and a collar and s**t."
Ralenkotter: I think I'd go with "Da," D apostrophe Brown.
Hazelwood: D'Browns, D'Browns.
The use of the recordings in the case were met with stiff opposition from the defense who argued they were not relevant to the charges against Hazelwood and would affect deliberations and verdicts towards other defendants besides Hazelwood.
"The Government’s motion to offer character evidence seeks to publicly assassinate Mark Hazelwood’s character—the equivalent of bringing a nuclear weapon to a knife fight," wrote Hazelwood's defense team in a recently unsealed response to a government motion to us the recordings as character evidence.
Court documents indicates the recordings contain racial, misogynistic and xenophobic language used by employees, including Hazelwood, while they were drinking and watching football at a private residence after work.
Pilot Flying J released the following statement Thursday:
As we conveyed in January when the tapes were played in court, we are very disturbed and appalled by the extremely offensive and deplorable comments recorded over 5 years ago involving a small group of former sales employees. This kind of behavior is reprehensible, not tolerated, nor reflective of the guiding principles of Pilot Flying J and does not represent the values of the dedicated 28,000 team members that we have today.
As soon as the Company was made aware of these tape recordings, immediate action was taken. The employees who participated were held responsible and are no longer with the Company. No current team member of Pilot Flying J was present or participated in this incident.
Hazelwood, who was convicted of three felony charges, remains on house arrest awaiting sentencing.