Two more Pilot Flying J employees face judge in rebate scheme

Two more Pilot Flying J employees face judge in rebate scheme

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Janet Welch (left) made no comment to 6 News as she left the federal courthouse. Janet Welch (left) made no comment to 6 News as she left the federal courthouse.
Michael Scott Fenwick (center) and his attorney declined to talk to reporters as they left the federal courthouse. Michael Scott Fenwick (center) and his attorney declined to talk to reporters as they left the federal courthouse.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Two more employees of Pilot Flying J were in federal court Monday morning to face charges related to an alleged rebate scheme that cheated trucking companies in their fuel purchases.

Janet Welch, a senior account manager in Pilot's Knoxville office, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a federal criminal offense.

Welch admitted in court to conspiring with other Pilot employees to commit mail fraud in order to deceptively reduce rebate amounts.

She is being held responsible for cheating up to 50 customers in rebates totaling up to $1 million.

Welch could face up to five years in prison for her part in the rebate fraud.

She made no comment to 6 News as she left the federal courthouse, but her attorney, Robert Kurtz, said, "We are happy to have the case resolved today and Miss Welch is looking forward to moving on with her life, but that is all we are going to comment on."

Moments after Welch's appearance in court, Michael Scott Fenwick, the western regional sales manager for Pilot Flying J and based in Salt Lake City, Utah, made a similar guilty plea. 

As with Welch, Fenwick is being held responsible only for the deals made with clients he handled.

Fenwick told the judge he worked for Pilot Flying J from 1998-2004 and again from 2006 until April 24 of this year when he resigned.

Both Fenwick and Welch have a status conference set for Oct. 1.

Welch and Fenwick are the sixth and seventh Pilot executives to plead guilty to fraud and other charges.

"We are disappointed and saddened to learn that one of our employees and a former employee have admitted to knowingly and intentionally taken actions detrimental to the best interests of our customers. However, this news does not come as a surprise in light of the current investigation," Rachel Albright, a spokesperson for Pilot Flying J, said in a statement released Monday afternoon. "We reiterate that the company, led by CEO Jimmy Haslam, is committed to do what is right, to pay back every customer affected by these actions, to implement policies and procedures to ensure this does not happen again, and to restore our customers' trust and confidence, which is still well-placed in Pilot Flying J."

The charges are based on federal raids at Pilot's Knoxville headquarters in April and a federal investigation of the company after tipsters provided information about alleged cheating.

Pilot Flying J is owned by the Haslam family, which includes Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

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