U.S. District Judge James M. Moody approved a $84.9 million settlement in the Pilot Flying J fuel rebate scandal in a Little Rock, Arkansas courtroom Monday.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee has granted its top alumni award to Jimmy Haslam amid an ongoing federal investigation into his family's company, Pilot Flying J, and its legal settlement with thousands of trucking company customers.
Haslam is the CEO of Pilot, the country's largest diesel retailer, and the owner of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. His brother, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, is the chairman of the university's board of trustees.
The state's flagship public university announced with little fanfare recently that Jimmy Haslam was one of four people given its Distinguished Alumnus Award, the school's highest honor for graduates who have "excelled in their field on the national or international stage and have brought credit to UT."
University spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen did not address whether the investigation into rebate fraud at Pilot was considered by the panel that selected Haslam.
"Jimmy Haslam is a great friend of the University of Tennessee and an important member of the Big Orange family," she said in an email.
The website for the school's office of alumni affairs says the honorees are reviewed and selected by a committee of its Alumni Board of Directors.
David Smith, a spokesman for Gov. Haslam, said the governor has no role related to the alumni panel that made the selection.
Federal agents in April raided Pilot's Knoxville headquarters. An affidavit in the case revealed that the company had systematically cheated customers in a scheme that was well known among the sales staff.
So far, seven Pilot sales employees have pleaded guilty to defrauding customers. Another two have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Jimmy Haslam has denied any previous knowledge of the scheme or any personal wrongdoing.
Pilot has sought a speedy settlement to a series of lawsuits filed against the company since the details of the investigation became public. A company attorney said this week that about 50 out of more than 6,000 Pilot customers had opted out of a settlement agreement that promises to repay any money owed with interest.
Jimmy Haslam was given a similar award by UT's business school in 2011, which noted that he and his wife had given $10 million to fund several professorships and create the Haslam Scholars program at the school.
His spokesman Tom Ingram said Wednesday, "Jimmy is very appreciative of the honor shown him by the university."
More Jimmy Haslam Stories
Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam's Knoxville-based company is expected to spend $72 million to settle a federal class action action lawsuit over alleged fuel rebate fraud.
A proposed settlement deal in a class action lawsuit filed by truckers against Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his company is falling apart.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam quietly named one of four University of Tennessee's "distinguished alumni."
Tuesday is a big day for trucking companies suing Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Pilot Flying J as deadline looms in huge class-action lawsuit.
A new lawsuit alleges that the president of Pilot Flying J told an Illinois trucking company that Pilot could not help it with any rebate discrepancies after the company said its fuel deal wasn't in writing.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Pilot Flying J CEO called the issues surrounding his company a very humbling, embarrassing time for himself, family and Pilot Flying J.
A federal judge is being asked to delay scheduling a sentencing date for seven former Pilot Flying J employees who have entered guilty pleas for their role in an alleged scheme that cheated trucking companies across the country.
After federal agents raided the headquarters of Pilot Flying J on April 15, seeking evidence of fuel rebate fraud, it didn't take long for Barrett to be approached about making a case against the company.
The founder of embattled truck-stop chain Pilot Flying J has given his first detailed remarks about the events surrounding a government raid of the Knoxville-based company.