For the first time, we are hearing the explosive secret recordings used in the federal case against Mark Hazelwood, the former president of Pilot Flying J.
They include racial slurs and profanity, giving a possible glimpse into what the culture there may have been like. The company continues to be controlled by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
Though Haslam was never charged with wrongdoing, Hazelwood was recently convicted of conspiracy, wire fraud, and witness tampering in a case where truckers were cheated out of discounts.
Hazelwood was discharged from his position in 2014, after bosses learned of the racists recordings.
They had been made in October 2012 during a meeting between Hazelwood and his subordinates. Multiple news outlets, including WKYC-TV, fought to make them public.
“Where’s our ‘Greasy n***r’ song?” Hazelwood asks at one point, referring to an offensive country song about a white man upset over losing his girlfriend to a black man.
The song is replayed and the men laugh over the lyrics.
They then turn to watching a Browns game where the following exchange takes place between Hazelwood and Arnie Ralenkotter, the former director of sales:
Hazelwood: I said, “Who buys the Raiders s**t?”
Hazelwood: N***rs. I said, “You think they’re gonna wear somethin’ that says the f**kin’ Browns on it?”
Ralenkotter: Maybe you oughta put “Da Browns” on it.
Executive Brian Mosher and salesman-turned-mole Vincent Greco soon weigh in:
Unidentifiable Voice” Cuyahoga county is the most liberal county in the whole country.
Unidentifiable Voice: In the whole country.
Greco: Well, don’t you think damn Oakland Raiders, California’s not liberal out there?
Unidentifiable Voice: Yeah, but that’s a bunch of f***in’ blacks and Mexicans.
Mosher: Oh, you, yeah, but Oakland? Oakland’s not liberal, it’s n***rs.
Hazelwood: It ain’t, it ain’t Mexicans. It’s just n***rs.
Mosher: All n***rs.
Unidentifiable Voice: There’s blacks, I mean, there’s a lotta Mexicans in Oak, Oakland, isn’t there?
Hazelwood: Oh, no, I meant Cleveland!
Unidentifiable Voice: Oh, I’m sayin’, in Cleveland, okay.
Hazelwood: Oh, okay, yeah, I meant Cleveland.
On Thursday Pilot Flying J released a statement.
“We are very disturbed and appalled by the extremely offensive and deplorable comments,” it read in part. “This kind of behavior is reprehensible, not tolerated, nor reflective of the guiding principles of Pilot Flying J.”
In 2013 the company was raided, though Hazelwood remained on the job.
Since 2014, Pilot Flying J has covered his legal bills and agreed to pay him $40 million pursuant to his employment agreement.
His sentencing is in June and he faces more than 20 years in prison.