Haslam family

Warren Buffett’s company buying Pilot Flying J

Berkshire Hathaway Inc., better known as billionaire businessman Warren Buffett’s company, has struck a deal to buy a 38.6 percent equity stake in Pilot Flying J, the truck stop/gas station company owned by Tennessee’s Haslam family.

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Anthem flap inspires Haslam bashing by Beavers, Breitbart

Former Sen. Mae Beavers, now running for governor, and Breitbart News are making an issue of the Haslam family’s comments on the ongoing national anthem controversy in the National Football League. Beavers says Randy Boyd, one of her GOP primary opponents, should return any contributions received from the governor’s family.

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Haslam family gives Knox County schools $1.3M (half for high school bands)

The Haslam family, through Pilot Flying J and the Haslam Family Foundation, is giving $1.3 million to Knox County Schools’ marching bands and academics, reports the News Sentinel.

“The Haslam family is proud to call Knoxville both our home and the headquarters for our company,” Pilot Flying J Director of Giving Back Will Haslam said in the announcement. “When we think of school pride, we think of the marching bands and their dedication.”

An equal portion of the money will go to each of the district’s 13 high schools, pending acceptance Sept. 13 by the Knox County Schools Board of Education.

… Half of the $1.3 million, coming from Pilot Flying J, will buy band uniforms, instruments or other equipment, according to a news release. The other half, coming from the Haslam Family Foundation, will give $50,000 to each high school for “materials or activities that will enhance the academic experience and outcomes for students,” the announcement said.

… This donation follows a 2015 pledge of $10 million for artificial turf football fields at all 13 high schools, with construction running through 2018. That gift included $100,000 to each school for classroom improvements.

Four enter guilty pleas in Pilot Flying J scam

The man dubbed by the FBI as the architect of the diesel fuel rebate scam by executives of the nation’s largest truck stop chain has struck a deal to confess, reports the News Sentinel.

The former Pilot Flying J vice president of sales, John “Stick” Freeman, and three other Pilot Flying J ex-employees have agreed to plead guilty in the multi-million-dollar fraud and, according to language in the documents filed Monday, cooperate with federal authorities in the ongoing probe.

Freeman has been repeatedly described in an FBI affidavit and an indictment filed by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Lewen and Trey Hamilton as the architect of the scam in which less sophisticated trucking companies across the country were promised certain rebates but paid much less.

Freeman is providing information to the FBI about Pilot Flying J and the diesel fuel rebate scam the corporation’s own board of directors has conceded ripped trucking firms off to the tune of millions in five years, pleadings filed Monday in U.S. District Court show.

Also striking deals to confess are: John Spiewak, a regional sales manager for Pilot Flying J; Vicki Borden, director of direct sales; and Katy Bibee, an account representative who worked directly with Freeman.

… Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lewen and Hamilton make clear in the plea agreements Freeman is a key player in their effort to show the rebate scam was pervasive as was the culture of greed that spurred it – and that former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood was looking to expand it.

…Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam has not been charged, though the FBI, indicated in testimony and court records he was a suspect. Haslam denies any knowledge of the scheme.

Jimmy Haslam deposition kept under wraps

Pilot Flying J President Jimmy Haslam emerged Tuesday evening from a daylong deposition in a civil lawsuit over the firm’s alleged diesel fuel rebate scam with another denial of any role or knowledge of the fraud to which several subordinates have confessed.

Further from the News Sentinel:

Haslam, who also owns the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, was ordered by an Ohio judge to submit to questioning by attorneys representing three trucking

that Pilot struck with dozens of other such companies after a high-profile raid in April 2013 of the company’s headquarters in Knoxville and the resulting indictment of more than a dozen executives and employees, including former Pilot president Mark Hazelwood.

The deposition spanned eight hours and took place at a Pilot conference center in Alcoa. It was not public. Attorney Chip Cooper, who represents two of the trucking companies, said Haslam is shielding a transcript of the deposition from the public.

“Regrettably, we can’t discuss the substance of Mr. Haslam’s testimony today,” Cooper said. “We can’t discuss it because Mr. Haslam insisted that his testimony be sealed and therefore shielded from public view. We plan to address this with the court in Ohio, and we encourage the press to do the same.”

Both Haslam and his attorney A.B. Culvahouse issued a statement Tuesday evening lambasting the three trucking firms and vowing Haslam’s innocence. They did not address the shield request.

“Our client openly and truthfully answered their questions,” Culvahouse said. “This entire exercise today was nothing more than an effort by the plaintiffs to harass the company into a windfall settlement.”