CLEVELAND - A former federal prosecutor says three new guilty pleas spell trouble for Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's Pilot Flying J Travel Centers.
Two regional sales managers and a sales representative reached plea agreements and pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Two other employees pleaded guilty earlier this month.
Former federal prosecutor Subodh Chandra said with five employees now agreeing to cooperate with the FBI probe, the allegations could mean more problems for Haslam's company.
"From a business standpoint, this is not good news for Mr. Haslam or his organization," Chandra said.
"What remains to be seen is this is just how high up did the alleged corruption go?"
Chandra said it also suggests that prosecutors are not only spreading the investigation "sideways" among fellow sales employees, but also that it "potentially goes up" among higher level company executives.
One hint of what was contained in an FBI affidavit that describes a company vice president allegedly taking part in the scheme to defraud trucking companies of promised fuel rebates
"We are disappointed in the actions of these employees towards our customers. We assure our customers that our five-step plan to correct any wrongdoing and to make certain these actions do not happen again is ongoing, and that our customers' confidence in the vast majority of our 23,000 team members nationwide remains well-placed," a Pilot Flying J spokeswoman said on Tuesday.