(198 Total References)
Former Pilot Flying J ...
Former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood, far left, was arraigned Tuesday morning, Feb. 9, 2016, on charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud as well as witness tampering. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)
KNOXVILLE - After approving an expansion of scheme to defraud small trucking companies of promised diesel fuel rebates, former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood made a prediction, according to an indictment unsealed Tuesday.
"We're all going to be winners for 2013," the indictment quotes Hazelwood telling sales managers at a November 2012 meeting in which he
was secretly recorded.
was arraigned Tuesday on charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud as well as witness tampering in a nearly three-year investigation.
Seven other Pilot employees were named in the 14-count indictment.
All eight are accused in the conspiracy count and nine specific charges of wire fraud.
faces an additional charge of witness tampering.
In addition to Hazelwood and Wombold, the following former Pilot employees are named in the indictment: John Freeman, who was vice president of sales and who has been identified in an FBI affidavit as the architect of the fuel rebate scheme; Vicki Borden, who supervised various sales support staff; sales representatives Katy Bibee, Heather Jones and Karen Mann; and John Spiewak, who is listed as a former regional sales manager.
That evidence includes emails and audio recordings in which Hazelwood
alleged co-conspirators made no bones about their intent to deceive trucking companies less wise to the ways of fuel rebates.
is captured on secret recordings in late 2012 not only giving his
approval of an expansion of the alleged fraud but advising his
sales executives exactly how to choose victims.
"Customer A, looks (at) every orifice," Hazelwood
"You have Customer B, who doesn't even know you have an orifice."
It's "customer B," he
added, the sales staff should target.
Eleven trucking companies are specifically named in the indictment, including BP Express Inc.
, in Rockford, Tenn.
The other companies were located across the country, including in North Carolina, Illinois, Florida, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The indictment alleges that one month after Hazelwood was fired from Pilot in May 2014 he "wilfully tried to persuade his former administrative assistant" to mislead or refuse to cooperate the FBI or the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.
That employee is only identified as "Pilot Employee 1."
The indictment alleges the conspiracy began in 2008 and ended with the raid on April 15, 2013.
The indictment indicates that Hazelwood
agreed on the day of the raid to speak with law enforcement.
The indictment does not indicate how forthcoming he
U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton allowed Hazelwood to go free under standard conditions of release, restricting his travel to Knoxville and Nashville.
Hazelwood, Freeman and Karen Crutchman, a senior account representative, all received "target letters," an indication the government was focusing on a possible role in the fuel rebate fraud.
MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL Former ...
MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL Former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood, left, leaves federal court after being arraigned Tuesday on charges including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud as well as witness tampering.
With a planned expansion of an already massive fraud scheme, 2013 was shaping up to be a good year for Mark Hazelwood
and an entire Pilot Flying J
diesel sales division crew, according to federal court records unsealed Tuesday.
"Guys, learn, ask, comprehend," Hazelwood
told a team of direct sales staff who were being trained in the "art" of scamming unsophisticated trucking companies of promised rebates.
Hazelwood, who billed himself as "lead visionary and strategist" for boosting Pilot Flying J's bottom line, was arraigned Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton on charges of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and witness tampering.
In addition to Hazelwood
, seven others were arraigned Tuesday in an indictment served up by a federal grand jury on Feb. 3 that includes 14 counts.
All eight are accused in the overall conspiracy, with some facing additional counts specific to their alleged actions.
Not indicted are CEO Jimmy Haslam, who maintains he
knew nothing about the scheme, and Chief Financial Officer Mitch Steenrod.
Named alongside Hazelwood in the 58-page "speaking indictment" - a rarely-used charging device that lays bare the heart of the government's case - are the following former Pilot employees: Former Pilot vice president of direct sales Scott "Scooter" Wombold, who is also charged with three counts of lying to agents with the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation Division; John Freeman, who was vice president of sales and who has been identified in an FBI affidavit as the architect of the fuel rebate scheme; Vicki Borden, who supervised various sales support staff; sales representatives Katy Bibee, Heather Jones and Karen Mann; and John Spiewak, who is listed as a former regional sales manager.
Those trip reports, according to the indictment, were the brainchild of Hazelwood and forwarded to him through an unnamed administrative assistant as soon as they were filed.
is accused in the witness-tampering count with pressuring that administrative assistant to lie about those trip reports in June 2014, one month after Hazelwood
outlined in a secret recording of a February 2013 meeting of his
top direct sales directors in Orlando, Fla., how to determine which of the hundreds of trucking firms Pilot served would be easy prey.
"What we're, what we're really talkin' 'bout is two-tiered customers - Customer A, Customer B," he
explained in the recording.
"Customer A looks (at) every orifice you have.
Customer B doesn't even know you have an orifice."
The more trusting and less questioning a trucking firm, the better target, he
At that meeting, Hazelwood
proposed an expansion, ordering his
executives to examine its customer base for easy marks and compiling a list, the indictment stated.
"So why don't we do this, so why don't we do this," Hazelwood
That's what we'll call this, Aunt Bea pricing," Hazelwood
is quoted in the indictment as saying.
, the pair wrote, was guaranteed 3½ percent of Pilot's after-tax revenues each year.
At Tuesday's arraignments for Hazelwood and the seven underlings named in the indictment with him, Guyton set a tentative trial date of April 11 before U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar, a Kentucky judge who stepped in after Knoxville's judges recused themselves.
, for instance, can travel only between Knoxville and Nashville without prior approval of the U.S. Probation Office.
Pilot Flying J President ...
Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood left Pilot in 2014, a year after the FBI raided the company's Knoxville headquarters.
A federal indictment unsealed on Tuesday accuses Hazelwood and seven other former employees of participating in a scheme to cheat customers out of promised rebates and discounts.
faces an additional charge of witness tampering.
Immediately following was a gourmet lunch, ...
Immediately following was a gourmet lunch, sponsored by Clean Energy, and their guest speaker, Mark Hazelwood
President of Pilot Flying J.
, who spoke about his
company's partnership with Clean Energy to add LNG (and potentially LCNG) capability at more than 150 of his
Mark Hazelwood, President of Pilot Flying J
Pilot Travel Centers LLC - Sales Team
Mark Hazelwood Executive Vice President