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.
KNOXVILLE - Federal agents have served a second search warrant as part of the investigation into Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian wouldn't give specifics today or say where the warrant was served.
"I can tell you that a second search warrant was issued last night," Killian said. "It's ongoing."
No arrests have been made so far. Killian wouldn't say whether any arrests appeared imminent, although he indicated the search could be part of a long-term investigation.
Federal authorities typically ask a judge to seal such warrants, rendering the contents secret.
The search came hours after dozens of FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents on Monday raided the West Knoxville headquarters of Pilot Flying J, operator of the largest travel center network in North America, while executing an earlier search warrant.
FBI supervisory special agent Marshall Stone said federal agents arrived at the corporate headquarters on Lonas Road as part of a "ongoing investigation."
Stone declined to provide specifics of the raid.
"The FBI secured our headquarters today and informed us they are investigating Pilot Flying J," Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam said in an email statement Monday afternoon.
"We will cooperate appropriately with any and all external investigations and conduct our own. I believe and trust there has been no wrongdoing. The integrity of our company always has been job No. 1."
Pilot Food Marts, Pilot Travel Centers and Flying J Travel Plazas remain open, according to a statement from Pilot spokeswoman Lauren Christ of Moxley Carmichael public relations firm.
An accounting firm, Steiner & Ellis, shares space at the complex with Pilot. The firm didn't immediately return calls today about the search.
Two men were seen exiting the Pilot data center, 1339 E. Weisgarber Road, Monday afternoon. One wore an FBI windbreaker and the other carried a backpack.
An employee who was present during the raid at the headquarters described an orderly but swift effort by federal agents to verify staffers' identities and job titles and to separate those who are necessary to the day-to-day business operations.
"They came in pretty quick — it wasn't a calm event," said the employee, who asked to not be identified. "I was at my desk and I heard some voices say they were there to execute a search and seizure warrant."
Company personnel were told to turn off their computers, cellphones and other electronic devices immediately as agents sequestered and processed some 200 employees among three office buildings on the corporate campus.
"They didn't want us to have any access to company information," the employee said.
The employee initially was corralled into a room with his department co-workers. The staffer and most of the others were told later to leave their company laptops behind and were subsequently allowed to leave the premises.
"Certain people in certain departments were asked to stay," the employee said. "Mostly people who collect data."
The staffer said he saw 25 to 30 federal agents and Knoxville Police Department officers in his building alone.
"There were just so many of them," said the employee, adding that several of the FBI agents wore white bulletproof vests. "It was weird, they looked like life preservers."
Agents appeared particularly focused on IT, accounting and customer services offices, he added.
"They didn't seem like they were on a witch hunt," the staffer said. "They seemed like they knew what they were looking for."
Media were barred Monday from the Pilot campus and the entrance was blocked. Pilot employees were escorted off the corporate campus on Lonas Road.
Knoxville-based Pilot is owner of more than 600 travel center locations across the U.S. and has more than 30,000 employees. It recorded revenues of $29.3 billion in 2011.
The company was founded more than 50 years ago by Jim Haslam and is run by his eldest son, Jimmy Haslam, who bought a majority ownership of the Cleveland Browns of the NFL last year.
Gov. Bill Haslam once served as president of the company.
Haslam stepped down as CEO after buying the Browns but resumed his role as CEO less than six months later, replacing former PepsiCo President John Compton.
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