KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The U.S. Justice Department has filed a motion to dismiss the remaining charges against three former executives of the Knoxville-based Pilot company convicted in a fuel rebate scam case dating back more than a decade. A retrial date had been set for early 2022 after a federal court overturned the guilty verdicts due to evidentiary concerns.
U.S. Attorney Trey Hamilton filed a motion Tuesday in U.S. District Court asking for the court’s approval to dismiss all charges against Mark Hazelwood, Scott Wombold and Heather Jones. The motion cites challenges with presenting facts in the decade-old case, as well as questions about the credibility of testimony from cooperators who have completed their sentences and may be reluctant to further assist the government.
Limited government resources was also included among the factors for seeking to dismiss the case.
Hazelwood, a former company president, was initially sentenced to 150 months in prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and witness tampering. His subordinates and other Pilot Flying J received lesser sentences.
The company also paid nearly $200 million in penalties and settlements over accusations of cheating trucking firms out of discounts on large fuel buys.
Last year, a federal court overturned the guilty verdicts against the three former Pilot Flying J executives — saying the recording of Hazelwood using racist and sexist language played during a former trial should not have been allowed at the trial.
At the time when the fuel rebate scam came to a head, Hazelwood was Pilot’s president and head of the direct sales division; Wombold was Pilot’s vice president of national accounts and manager of direct sales division; and Jones was a regional account representative on the direct sales team.
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