Law expert weighs in on Pilot guilty pleas

Law expert weighs in on Pilot guilty pleas

Posted:
The chain of command at Pilot Flying J. Click to enlarge. The chain of command at Pilot Flying J. Click to enlarge.
"The closer you are to the people that are pleading guilty now, the greater chance that you're going to be indicted next," Assistant Law Professor Melanie Reid said. "The closer you are to the people that are pleading guilty now, the greater chance that you're going to be indicted next," Assistant Law Professor Melanie Reid said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There are more than 30 Pilot Flying J employees named in the affidavit for the federal investigation and five of them have already entered guilty pleas to fraud charges.

Lincoln Memorial University Assistant Law Professor Melanie Reid told 6 News those who are among the first ones to cooperate with the government will likely get the best deals.

"The closer you are to the people that are pleading guilty now, the greater chance that you're going to be indicted next," Reid said.

So far, an assistant to the senior sales executives, a regional sales director, a regional sales manager and two account representatives have admitted guilt in the case.

"Just like building a house, they're having account representatives and sales managers pleading guilty so they can see how pervasive the scheme to defraud really is," Reid said.

Here's an idea of how those pleading guilty are connected to others named in the affidavit:

  • Account Representative Ashley Smith Judd was one of the first two employees to plead guilty to fraud charges. Judd would write fraudulent rebate checks approved by one of her supervisors, Regional Sales Manager Kevin Clark.
  • Clark pleaded guilty to fraud charges Tuesday. Clark answers to the West Regional Sales Manager, Vincent Greco.
  • Greco is listed as taking part in the recorded conversations discussing the alleged rebate scam.
  • Directly above Greco is Vice President of Sales John Freeman, who is also part of those recordings along with his boss, President Mark Hazelwood.
  • Hazelwood is directly under CEO Jimmy Haslam.

Reid said the pressure is hardest on the employees engaged in the damning phone conversations with employees who are now cooperating with the prosecution.

"They know now the government has first-hand testimony they're involved in the scheme as well," Reid said.

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