Jimmy Haslam apologizes to Cleveland Browns fans

Jimmy Haslam apologizes to Cleveland Browns fans for Pilot Flying J investigation

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"We're comfortable that we'll work through this situation, but I did want to say that publicly," Pilot Flying J CEO and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said. "We're comfortable that we'll work through this situation, but I did want to say that publicly," Pilot Flying J CEO and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said.

WESTLAKE, Ohio (WATE) - Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam apologized Tuesday to Cleveland fans for the distractions of the FBI's investigation into Pilot Flying J.

Haslam is CEO of Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J. He purchased the Browns last year for $1 billion.

"I apologize to the city of Cleveland, Northeastern Ohio and all Browns fans because the last thing we ever wanted to do as a new owner was to detract from football and the Browns and just what a great football area this is," Haslam said. "I apologize for that, we feel badly about it, and we're comfortable that we'll work through this situation, but I did want to say that publicly."

Haslam made his remarks at the Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the National Football Foundation's 25th annual scholar-athlete banquet and at a brief news conference that followed.

The Browns owner said he was embarrassed by actions of his other business, Pilot Flying J, that led to a federal investigation of fraud at the truck-stop company.

"The bad news, and it was really sickening to me, candidly, was the apparent behavior of some of our sales people; behavior that's not characteristic of how the 20,000 employees of PFJ (Pilot Flying J) act and behave towards anyone," he said. "We don't talk that way. We don't act that way. Candidly, it was behavior that was particularly improper towards customers."

Haslam declined to elaborate on details of activities that lead up to the raid by federal agents on April 15.

A 120-page affidavit alleges members of Pilot's sales team deliberately withheld rebates to boost profits.

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