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).
People and Pop Culture
Puma named Danish jewelry maker Pandora CEO BJORN GULDEN to the same position, effect July 1. Gulden succeeds FRANZ KOCH, who left the company in March. Gulden also had a previous stint as adidas Senior VP/Apparel & Accessories (Puma)….The Indians named REBECCA KODYSH Exec Dir of Community Impact and NEIL WEISS Senior VP/Technology & CIO (Indians)….Little League Baseball & Softball named BRIAN MCCLINTOCK Dir of Media Relations and MIKE WESLOSKY Development Manager (Little League)….Ad Age hired former USA Today national TV columnist and Game On! blogger MICHAEL MCCARTHY as a reporter, covering sports and automotive news (THE DAILY)….Twitter Media named SIMON ROGERS Data Editor and BRIDGET FINN Media Editor (TWITTER.com, 4/18).
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In Boston, Adam Kurkjian reports golfer and Boston resident JAMES DRISCOLL created the Birdies for Boston charity and will use it through the PGA Tour to "benefit the victims" of the Boston Marathon bombings. Driscoll said, "I immediately jumped on it. I talked to all the people on the PGA Tour, and (the idea) hit the ground running really fast." Driscoll by Thursday had a "Birdies for Boston campaign named and copywritten, then approved by the PGA Tour and on its site." The charity can be "accessed by going to the PGATour.com site under charities and Driscoll's page." Driscoll also has the site "linked on his Twitter page." Driscoll has "pledged $1,000 for every birdie he makes" this week at the RBC Heritage and at next week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans (BOSTON HERALD, 4/19).
SKY WALKER: Paris Saint-Germain MF DAVID BECKHAM will become an "ambassador for BSkyB, in what the broadcaster described as a 'long-term partnership' that will involve the former England football captain supporting its work to encourage grassroots sport across the UK and Ireland." Beckham also will be featured in "advertising promoting Sky's sports coverage and other services." Beckham will "work with the 10-year-old Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative, in which about 30,000 young people participate annually" (GUARDIAN, 4/19).
NAMES: Wells Fargo on Thursday had ESPN's LOU HOLTZ "rev up a nationwide audience of thousands of real estate agents." Holtz was the "featured speaker at an invitation-only program" hosted by the bank in Chicago (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/19)....TIME magazine released its list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and making the list were several figures from the sports world: Serie A club AC Milan F MARIO BALOTELLI, Heat F LEBRON JAMES, tennis player LI NA, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO TRAVIS TYGART and U.S. skier LINDSEY VONN. CHRIS EVERT writes the piece on Li, while Yankees SS DEREK JETER writes about James and NASCAR driver DANICA PATRICK writes about Vonn (TIME, 4/29 issue).