Trucking company operators across the country were furious to learn that the truck-stop chain Pilot Flying J may have deliberately cheated them on rebates they were supposed to have earned on diesel-fuel purchases.
An affidavit released by the FBI on Thursday describes accusations of fraud in the Pilot Flying J rebate program, USA Today reported. The company is accused of wrongfully withholding millions of dollars from trucking companies. Last week the FBI raided the company as part of an ongoing federal probe into the rebate scheme.
According to the affidavit, trucking firms were paid less than promised in rebates they expected to earn by refueling at Pilot Flying J locations. The companies said they had difficulty getting explanations of how the rebates were calculated or why there were discrepancies, according to USA Today. Tommy Hodges, owner of Titan Transfer, Inc. said, “Sometimes when we were expecting $50,000, we would get only $35,000, and when we would call, we never got a straight answer about the discrepancy.”
Pilot Flying J, based in Knoxville, Tennessee, has more than 650 locations and employs 23,000 people. Majority ownership and control of the company is held by the by the family of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Jimmy Haslam, the governor’s brother, is chief executive officer. Jimmy Haslam is also the owner of the Cleveland Browns football team.
The affidavit states that federal investigators believe that members of the Pilot sales staff “have conspired and schemed to engage in rebate fraud for many years.” Jimmy Haslam said the company would no longer allow staff to conduct manual transactions, USA Today reports. According to the FBI affidavit, some sales staffers altered rebate agreements in order to pay trucking companies less than they were owed. Haslam said Pilot Flying J would hire an outside investigator with a U.S. Department of Justice background to conduct an internal review of the company’s billing process with each of its 3,300 trucking clients.