A limited portion of recordings containing a group of former Pilot Flying J executives using racial slurs was released in court Wednesday, according to Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield.
The recordings were played before jurors, despite the defense team for former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood appealing to prevent the recordings from being played after a federal judge called the recording's remarks "vile" and "despicable."
On Wednesday, Satterfield reported the recordings revealed Pilot Flying J executives in a "rowdy" meeting during which Hazelwood is heard shouting, "Where's our greasy n----r song?"
The song "N---er F----r" by country singer David Allen Coe can then be heard playing in the background.
Previous reports said the executives could also be heard making racist remarks about the Cleveland Browns, the city of Cleveland and the city of Oakland. Those alleged recordings were not played in court Wednesday.
According to Satterfield, the executives could be heard saying the Browns "suck" and "will never make the Super Bowl," during Wednesday's recordings. Another executive, Arnie Ralenkotter, can be heard poking fun at sensitivity training.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam also owns Pilot Flying J, though he has denied any involvement and has not been charged in the scheme.
The alleged scheme, which spanned from at least 2008 to 2013, has cost Pilot Flying J's board of directors $92 million in criminal penalties and $85 million in lawsuit settlements.
Hazelwood and three former subordinates — Vice President Scott “Scooter” Wombold and account representatives Karen Mann and Heather Jones — are on trial in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga on wire fraud and mail fraud conspiracy charges. They are accused of ripping off Pilot Flying J trucking customers by promising bigger discounts on diesel fuel than the firm paid.
Fourteen former Pilot Flying J executives and direct sales staffers have pleaded guilty. Two more were granted immunity. Pilot's board confessed criminal responsibility.
U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier said in December he would allow the racist recordings to be played in open court. It was then that he revealed the recordings included remarks about the Browns.
The government negotiated with the defense to release "limited recordings" Wednesday as the defense argued the recordings would be damaging to Hazelwood's character.
The Knoxville News Sentinel has requested full transcripts of the recordings, which remain sealed.
Satterfield provided an update Wednesday afternoon. Hear her full recap in the video below:
UPDATE: Pilot Flying J released a statement reacting to the recordings to Satterfield on Wednesday evening:
"We are very disturbed and appalled by the extremely offensive and deplorable comments recorded over 5 years ago involving a small group of former sales employees. This kind of behavior is reprehensible, not tolerated, nor reflective of the guiding principles of Pilot Flying J and does not represent the values of the dedicated 28,000 team members that we have today. As soon as the Company was made aware of these tape recordings, immediate action was taken. The employees who participated were held responsible and are no longer with the Company. No current team member of Pilot Flying J was present or participated in this incident."