Jimmy Haslam says little about investigation; customer speaks

Jimmy Haslam says little about investigation; customer speaks about fraud

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By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam made a public address on Friday regarding a raid by the FBI, but remained tight-lipped about details of the investigation.

The CEO took no questions from reporters and echoed statements he made Tuesday, saying the company was fully cooperating and that the investigation was focused on, "a very narrow band of a very large company."


Read Haslam's Full Statement


The news conference took place at 4 p.m. at Pilot Flying J headquarters in West Knoxville.

Pilot Flying J has been the subject of an FBI raid after allegations surfaced that the company was not paying out rebates owed to diesel fuel customers.

On Thursday, 6 News obtained a copy of the affidavit and search warrant in the case, which provided more detail about the Pilot employees whose offices were targeted in the raid.

The court documents claim Haslam and other executives not only knew, but took part in a plan to cheat trucking companies out of money.

On Friday, Haslam addressed the release of documents, saying they, "didn't present a very flattering picture of our company, and were not representative of what [the] company is all about."

He said he was sorry that those close to the company had to go through the situation.

Despite the investigation, Haslam said it was "business as usual" at Pilot Flying J, and he said he had instructed his managers to keep morale up and stay focused on doing their jobs.

Trucking company describes alleged fraud

W.N. Morehouse Truck Line Inc. is one of a number of companies investigators believe Pilot Flying J employees intentionally defrauded, according to the affidavit.

The office manager of the Omaha-based company told 6 News in a phone interview that he was alerted to the problem after taking a close look at a bill in June of last year.

"It felt like there was something fishy going on," Curt Morehouse said. "I noticed a discrepancy of about three-and-a-half cents."

Morehouse is talking about three-and-a-half cents lost for each gallon of gas purchased from Pilot Flying J.

And while it may not sound like much at first, Morehouse said Pilot Flying J scammed his company out of more than $146,000 in total.

"It seems like they were defrauding people out of a penny here, a penny there, but at the end of the year, that adds up to a lot of money," Morehouse said.

The affidavit revealed that Pilot Flying J employees were directed to withhold some of the rebates to customers deemed "too unsophisticated" to notice.

Morehouse said it was not a matter of sophistication, but rather about being trusting.

He said he now closely follows all sales and business transactions more closely because of the incident.

Former Pilot Flying J employees told investigators they were told to blame a computer error if and when a mistake was realized by a customer.

Morehouse said Pilot Flying J did blame the mistake on a computer and agreed to repay $80,000 upfront and make up the difference through future discounts.

"I hope that the owner, Mr. Haslam, has the courage and has the sense of responsibility to make whole all the people and all the companies that his company defrauded," Morehouse said.


Read the Search Warrant Affidavit:

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