KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The federal probe into alleged fuel rebate fraud at Jimmy Haslam's Pilot Flying J Travel Centers continues a full year after the April 15, 2013 raid by federal agents.
So far, 10 former sales employees have pleaded guilty to crimes associated with cheating truckers of promised fuel rebates and two additional former employees have been granted immunity.
An FBI affidavit filed last April claimed some top company executives were aware of the alleged fraud.
Yet a review of the 143-page document also reveals some tape recordings that support Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam's claim that he was unaware of any alleged fraud.
For example, a Pilot employee who was secretly working with the FBI and recording conversations among sales employees pointedly asks a colleague if Haslam is "smart enough to figure out" the alleged fraud.
The emphatic response: "He don't know anything about our business."
In another example, the FBI inside source again questions another Pilot sales employee about whether Haslam knows about an allegedly fraudulent deal they are discussing.
The response: "I don't think."
And in a third example, a company email is quoted revealing that "Haslam wants us to make sure that the deals that are out there are deals we have to be providing" and then goes on to say that Haslam "wanted to be fair."
Meanwhile, in the year since the FBI raid, Haslam has taken extraordinary measures to, in his words, "make things right."
For example, he's:
- Personally called hundreds of truckers to apologize
- Reached $85 million settlement with trucking companies
- Repaid every penny of fuel rebates plus 6 percent interest
Haslam has has never been charged with a crime in connection with the ongoing probe, and within days of the FBI raid, he called for a complete audit of the Pilot Flying J books and a review of sales procedures.
In addition, Pilot's Board of Directors hired an outside, independent investigator to look into allegations and report those findings directly to the Board when completed.