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Pilot Flying J sends rebates amidst FBI investigation

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Pilot Flying J, in the midst of an FBI investigation of alleged fraud by its sales staff, has sent checks to trucking companies shorted on rebates, according to a letter to the company’s customers.

In the July 12 letter made public Monday, CEO and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that after an audit, “checks have been sent with interest to all who were found to be owed money.”

He didn’t say how large the checks were or how many were being distributed, but he did note there were numerous accounts with a “zero balance and even some accounts that owed money to Pilot Flying J.”

Haslam, the brother of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, said during a speech in May at an annual conference of truckers in Indianapolis that as many as 250 trucking companies might be owed money.

Jimmy Haslam has been doing furious damage control since an April 15 raid on company headquarters by federal agents and the subsequent release of an FBI affidavit with transcripts of secretly recorded conversations among the sales staff.

Federal agents say the conversations outline a scheme to defraud trucking companies of fuel rebates.

Five members of the sales staff have pleaded guilty to mail fraud and are cooperating with prosecutors, as are two further current and former Pilot staffers.

At least 17 trucking firms have filed lawsuits against Pilot in federal court and several other suits are pending in state and county courts.

Jimmy Haslam said in the letter that six members of the company’s sales team have resigned or were fired, and that three others have been placed on administrative leave.

He also said the company has “eliminated the manual diesel rebates and installed systems and controls to help ensure this does not happen again.”

“We understand that Pilot Flying J still has lots of work to do to regain your trust,” Haslam said. “We are taking aggressive measures to restore, preserve and protect our customer relationships.”