KNOXVILLE, Tenn.--The former president of Pilot Flying J, which is owned by Cleveland Browns' owner Jimmy Haslam, faces federal indictment on a charge of witness tampering in connection with a fuel rebate scheme that authorities say bilked trucking company customers of millions.
Sources told 10News on Tuesday that a total of eight people with ties to Pilot were expected to be indicted, adding that Pilot CEO Haslam was not expected to be among the eight.
Mark Hazelwood's attorney, Rusty Hardin, confirmed his client's indictment Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Knoxville.
READ | Pilot Flying J timeline
The indictment also was read in federal court.
Hardin declined further comment.
Just before 1 p.m., Pilot Flying J released a statement:
In response to actions today by the federal government in its ongoing investigation, Pilot Flying J issued the following:
“We’re obviously disappointed and saddened by today’s events but cannot comment further on any matters which are part of the ongoing investigation. We can say that since this unfortunate episode began, the company has put in place policies and procedures unparalleled in the industry to prevent anything like this from happening again.
“The company has cooperated with the investigation since its beginning and will continue to do so. The company repaid affected customers, accepted legal responsibility, and agreed to pay a monetary penalty. The trust and confidence of Pilot Flying J’s customers continues to be of paramount importance to the company and their continued support and loyalty is very much appreciated.”
Hazelwood's indictment comes almost three years after dozens of FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents raided Pilot’s West Knoxville headquarters and several other nearby offices, seizing thousands of documents and copying computer hard drives.
Hazelwood was to appear before a federal magistrate for first appearance and arraignment.
Federal indictments previously returned allege Pilot employees since at least 2008 crafted a multimillion-dollar scheme to drive up profits, bump off the competition and increase commissions for its sales representatives and executives, according to federal documents.
Ten now former employees have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the government's investigation.
FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents staged the raid on Pilot Flying J headquarters in West Knoxville in April 2013.
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