KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - NewsChannel5 has reviewed key FBI documents revealing new details of the federal investigation into Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his company.
Federal search warrants reveal the names of 37 Pilot Flying J employees, whose computers, hard drives, emails and electronic devices have been seized by federal agents,
No one has been charged with a crime, but the investigation has broadened to include information from employees associated with the sales department that bills trucking companies and provides rebates.
Two additional class action lawsuits were filed in federal court, as well as a third that was originally filed last week in a Tennessee circuit court. The lawsuits were filed by trucking companies claiming they were cheated by Haslam's company on promised rebates.
"We've been advised by counsel that class action lawsuits in a matter like this are expected and no surprise. Our counsel will review them as they come and defend them appropriately," a Pilot spokeswoman said.
Dennis Francis is an experienced criminal defense attorney based in Knoxville who is familiar with federal investigations.
Francis said Pilot employees have already obtained lawyers and some may be considering telling federal prosecutors what they may know about billing practices.
"They might want to get on the bus," Francis said.
By cooperating with prosecutors, witnesses may be able to avoid potential criminal charges in the early stage of an investigation when keys information is most needed by investigators.
Meanwhile, a hearing is scheduled in Knoxville Monday on a temporary order to prevent Haslam from contacting trucking companies that have allegedly been cheated.