SBD/April 19, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam Allegedly Was Aware Of Rebate Scheme As CEO Of Company

An affidavit showed more than 30 of Haslam's employees were involved
Browns Owner and Pilot Flying J CEO JIMMY HASLAM III allegedly was "present during discussions of an alleged scheme that cheated businesses out of millions of dollars and inflated the profits of his multibillion-dollar truck stop company," according to a federal affidavit cited in a front-page piece by Allyn & Roche of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. The document, filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville and released on Thursday, indicated that more than "30 employees were named as being involved, in addition to Jimmy Haslam, who was listed separately." Employees if caught would "chalk up the discrepancies to 'computer glitches.'" The FBI in the affidavit cited a source who said that the alleged fraud was "discussed in sales meetings where Jimmy Haslam and company President MARK HAZELWOOD were present." The affidavit additionally indicates that Haslam "for years sent reports documenting the practice, and at one meeting, Jimmy Haslam thanked an employee, now implicated in the fraud, for saving the company money." Haslam held a news conference Tuesday in which he said that he "disagreed with any allegations that the company did not pay rebates to customers." Haslam in a news release Thursday said, "I’ve read the affidavits. I now understand more clearly the questions the federal investigators are exploring" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/19). In Cleveland, Caniglia & Grant in a front-page piece note the affidavit says that FBI and IRS agents are "investigating charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 4/19). Browns VP/Media Relations NEAL GULKIS said that the team has "no comment" (AP, 4/18). Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel tweeted, "Pilot Flying J the Cleveland Browns of truck stops?" (TWITTER.com, 4/18).
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