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INTERACTIVE | Pilot Flying J timeline

INTERACTIVE | Pilot Flying J timeline
Pilot Flying J Headquarters

FULLSCREEN: Launch timeline

May 4, 2011 - First FBI contact

A confidential source contacts the FBI concerning alleged fraud at the nation's largest fuel retailer

June 1, 2011 - Recorded conversations

A source records a series of conversations for the FBI

MOBILE USERS - (http://bit.ly/TIMELINE-PilotFlyingJ)

October 2, 2012 - Sales employee agrees to help

A Pilot sales employee, referred to as CHS-2, agrees to provide the FBI with information

October 24, 2012 - Informant visits headquarters

Sales employee "CHS-2" visits Pilot headquarters

November 19, 2012 - Scheme caught on tape

Sales employee "CHS-2" secretly records other employees teaching the manual rebate practices

November 20, 2012 - Western Express fraud

Sales employee "CHS-2" attends a meeting where alleged fraud against Western Express trucking company is discussed

December 17, 2012 - Manager admits fraud on tape

One of Pilot's regional sales managers admits to engaging in rebate fraud during a recorded conversation, according to the FBI

April 15, 2013 2:30 p.m. - FBI raids Pilot Flying J

FBI and IRS agents swarm the Knoxville-based headquarters

April 15, 2013 11:00 p.m. - FBI, IRS keeping raid details quiet

Hours after raiding Pilot Flying J Headquarters, FBI officials would only say it was part of an ongoing investigation

April 16, 2013 3:00 p.m. - Haslam: "Probe will work out in Pilot Flying J's favor"

CEO Jimmy Haslam holds his first press conference following a raid by federal officials. He says the investigation appears to involve rebates to a "small group of trucking customers."

April 17, 2013 - Pilot spokesperson reveals more about investigation

A Pilot spokesperson, Tom Ingram, says the investigation appears to involve rebates to some trucking companies, which are calculated manually. Meanwhile, federal officials have yet to comment.

April 18, 2013 - Search warrant unsealed

The 120-page affidavit is released. According to the documents, "Pilot employees have conspired and schemed to engage in Rebate Fraud for many years." Claimed some employees intentionally withheld diesel fuel price rebates and discounts from certain Pilot Flying J customers.

April 18, 2013 - Search warrants: Top executives knew about rebate scheme

Documents claim Pilot's president, Mark Hazelwood, and Pilot's CEO, Jimmy Haslam, knew about the rebate fraud because it had been discussed during sales meetings in Knoxville, Tennessee, when the two were present.

April 18, 2013 - Warrants detail recorded conversations

Documents give a revealing look into the scheme to defraud customers. Vice President of Sales, John Freeman is repeatedly mentioned. In one conversation, he talks to sales directors about shorting rebates and describes it as a game. In another recording, Senior Account Representative, Karen Crutchman talks about the company's culture: "I think the greed, people being greedy and trying to make themselves look good is probably going to come back. I just don't see how you can do this and get by with it."

April 19, 2013 - CEO Jimmy Haslam: "I haven't done anything wrong"

Jimmy Haslam tells the media he has no plans to step down from his position as CEO during the federal investigation. "I haven't done anything wrong," he said. "This company needs leadership right now."

April 20, 2013 – First lawsuit lawsuit filed against Pilot Flying J

Atlantic Coast Carriers, a Georgia trucking company, requests class action status in a lawsuit against the Knoxville-based fuel company. It's the first lawsuit since federal agents raided the Pilot Flying J headquarters.

April 22, 2013 3:00 p.m. – Haslam outlines 5-step plan, places managers on leave

CEO Jimmy Haslam outlines 5 steps to get the company back on track. He says they're doing an internal audit, getting rid of the manual rebate process, putting some staff on leave, and bringing in an outside investigator. In addition, he says they've begun trying to repair some of the damaged relationships with customers mentioned in the investigation.

April 26, 2013 – More lawsuits filed

Two new class action lawsuits filed in federal courts against Pilot Flying J. Both cite documents from the April 15, 2013 raid of the company's Knoxville-based headquarters.

April 27, 2013 – Scam victim speaks out

W.N. Morehouse, a Nebraska-based trucking company, discusses with WBIR how they discovered they were one of the victims of Pilot's alleged rebate scam. They were short-changed more than $140,000 in owed rebates. The owner says he has no hard feelings toward CEO Jimmy Haslam, but that would change if it comes out later that he knew about the scam.

April 29, 2013 – Judge: Pilot Flying J can keep contacting possible victims

A judge denies the request of a Georgia attorney to prevent Pilot Flying J officials from contacting its customers who may have been impacted by an alleged rebate scam. The plaintiff says Pilot is attempting to influence witnesses, while the company says it's only trying to make things right by rebuilding damaged relationships. Pilot says any customers it repays may still testify and/or file their own lawsuits in the future.

May 16, 2013 – CEO faces trucking execs

Jimmy Haslam answers questions about the federal investigation for hundreds of trucking executives at a seminar in Indiana. When asked by the moderator if he was aware or participated in the scheme in any way, Haslam said "Absolutely not. Let me say that again. Absolutely not."

May 29, 2013 – Two sales execs plead guilty

Two Pilot Flying J sales employees pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. Court documents show Arnold Ralenkotter and Ashley Judd admitted to intentionally reducing rebates owed to some of Pilot's commercial customers over the course of several years.

June 18, 2013 – Three more guilty pleas

Two regional sales managers and an account representative admit in court they purposely lowered rebates to customers who wouldn't catch mistakes. This makes five guilty pleas tied to the federal investigation.

June 18, 2013 – "I'm just waiting for the call to say Brian Mosher is in prison"

The owner and manager of W.N. Morehouse Truck Line in Nebraska, Curt Morehouse, wants to see prison time for the sales director who originally set-up the accounts to defraud his company. Meanwhile, Morehouse had mixed opinions on another sales manager who had taken over those accounts and pleaded guilty to fraud.

July 12, 2013 – Letter sent to customers

CEO Jimmy Haslam sends a letter, dated July 12, to update customers on the 5 steps he previously outlined to get Pilot Flying J back on track. His letter claims customers who were owed money have received checks for the amounts of the discrepancies, plus interest.

July 15, 2013 – 9 employees gone amid investigation

Haslam's letter to customers from July 12 becomes public. He says "essentially all manually calculated diesel rebates" have been eliminated. Plus, three sales team members are on administrative leave while six others have quit or been fired.

July 24, 2013 – PR push

Pilot launches a website where they say people can find more information regarding the ongoing federal investigation

September 17, 2013 – CEO Jimmy Haslam breaks 4-month silence

As part of National Driver Appreciation Week, Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam greets truckers filling up in Knoxville. Haslam also discusses the ongoing federal investigation for the first time in four months. He keeps the focus on making things "right."

October 16, 2013 – UT grants Jimmy Haslam award, despite ongoing investigation

The University of Tennessee gives Jimmy Haslam its top alumni award, despite the ongoing federal investigation. The "Distinguished Alumnus Award" is the school's highest honor for graduates who "excelled in their field on the national or international stage and have brought credit to UT."

October 18, 2013 – Truckers reject Pilot settlement

About 90 trucking companies opt out of a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Pilot Flying J. The settlement would've repayed truckers the amount owed plus interest.

November 5, 2013 – Rebate settlement deal jumps to $72 million

Pilot attorneys describe the deal as an "extraordinarily good settlement" and it was likely the victims "would never receive any greater benefit." The settlement would reimburse truckers with 6% interest for the millions in unpaid rebates.

November 15, 2013 – Lawyers against try to bar Pilot from contacting victims

Lawyers for one of the trucking firms suing Pilot Flying J asks a judge to bar Pilot's lawyers or officers from communicating directly with their client. A series of seemingly contradictory letters from a Pilot official is cited as why they want the ban.

November 22, 2013 – Judge seals Pilot filings

A federal judge agreed to keep the list of trucking companies that have opted out of the proposed settlement a secret.

November 25, 2013 – Settlement hearing

Lawyers for the nation's largest fuel retailer head to court in Little Rock, Arkansas for a settlement hearing with customers who the company acknowledges were cheated out of rebates.

January 11, 2014 – Key legal win

In what's seen as a major win for Pilot, a federal judge dismissed many major charges in a civil suit brought by an Alabama trucking firm.

January 15, 2014 – "95% of customers paid back"

A company spokesperson says it's paid back most of its customers who were owed money. Pilot says it's given out any potential discrepency plus six percent interest to 95% of its customers.

January 28, 2014 – 3 sales execs plead guilty

Brian Mosher, Lexie Holden, and Christopher Andrews plead guilty in court. Mosher was the company's former national sales director. He admits to altering spreadsheets containing customer rebates. He also says he taught other employees how to do this during a training conference in 2012. He claims several members of Pilot's "senior management" were at that conference. This brings the total of guilty pleas to 10.

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