Three More Pilot Flying J Guilty Pleas

Join parade of former employees cooperating with feds in rebate investigation

Published in CSP Daily News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Three former employees of Pilot Flying J pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges involving a scheme where trucking companies were cheated out of promised diesel fuel rebates, reported the Associated Press.

The FBI and IRS raided Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., on April 15, 2013, to investigate the alleged scheme to cheat trucking companies out of rebates for diesel fuel purchased at the chain's more than 650 truckstops.

Pilot Flying J reached an $85 million settlement with hundreds of trucking customers who were affected by the alleged fraud, reported The Knoxville News Sentinel. The company has agreed to repay any amounts owed plus 6% interest; however, more than a dozen companies are pursuing lawsuits outside of the settlement, and Pilot Flying J is seeking to consolidate the pretrial proceedings in several federal cases.

Earlier this month, a federal judge dismissed racketeering and deceptive trade practices charges against the company.

The three latest individuals are among 11 former Pilot Flying J employees to plead guilty since federal agents raided the company's Knoxville headquarters last year, the report said. They have agreed to cooperate with the government for a reduced sentence.

One of the former employees who appeared in court Monday is Brian Mosher, a former director of sales, who admitted to training other company employees on how to cheat customers.

"Brian Mosher has recognized and acknowledged a serious situation that developed at the company, and he's doing what he can to help correct it," said Mosher's attorney Steven Kowal, according to AP.

Mosher faces a maximum of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, although it's unlikely he would serve that amount of time.

Mosher, in his plea agreement, admitted to holding four breakout sessions during Pilot Flying J's annual sales meeting in Knoxville in Nov. 2012 in which he showed employees how to defraud trucking companies without getting caught.

Mosher was secretly recorded telling colleagues to target unsophisticated trucking customers, an FBI affidavit said.

Former employees Christopher Andrews, a regional sales ma nager, and Lexie Holden, a regional account representative, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States government, said the report, citing court documents. Each faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

CEO Jimmy Haslam, who also owns the Cleveland Browns football team, has denied involvement in the rebate scheme.

Pilot Flying J has more than 650 retail locations and is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America. Its network provides customers with access to more than 60,000 parking spaces for trucks, more than 4,400 showers and more than 4,000 diesel lanes, of which more than 2,800 offer diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) at the pump.