Three more employees of the truck stop chain owned by the Cleveland Browns’ owner and Tennessee’s governor pleaded guilty in what authorities call a scheme to cheat trucking firms out of rebates.
The Associated Press
Regional sales manager Kevin Clark pleaded guilty to mail fraud in federal court in Knoxville, Tenn. Clark was based in Kansas City, according to media reports.
Account manager Holly Radford and salesman Jay Stinnett entered similar pleas later in the day.
Court records state Clark “knowingly and voluntarily joined and participated in the conspiracy” with others at Pilot Flying J, the country’s largest diesel retailer, to shortchange trucking companies between 2009 and this spring to increase Pilot profits and boost sales commissions.
Federal agents raided the privately held company’s Knoxville headquarters in April. Pilot is run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, the brother of Gov. Bill Haslam. Jimmy Haslam has denied any personal wrongdoing.
“We are disappointed in the actions of these employees towards our customers,” Pilot spokesman Tom Ingram said in a statement. “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.”
The governor maintains he is not involved with operating Pilot Flying J, though he continues to hold an undisclosed ownership stake in the company, which posts annual revenues of $31 billion.
As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors said they will hold only Clark responsible for rebate reductions he personally approved, rather than all the alleged fraud committed as part of the conspiracy. Clark has agreed to cooperate with the investigation and testify on behalf of the prosecution.
Clark could not be reached for comment.