The good news in Cleveland sports continues into another week as Pilot Flying J has reached a deal with the government that includes an avoidance of criminal charges against the company. From the Knoxville News Sentinel out of Tennessee:
Under the deal made public on Monday, Pilot must pay a $92 million penalty over two years and cooperate with an ongoing criminal investigation into diesel fuel rebate fraud.
Federal prosecutors said in a news release that the Criminal Enforcement Agreement “expressly states that it provides no protection from prosecution to any individual” in connection with the case.
We, as a company, look forward to putting this whole unfortunate episode behind us, continuing our efforts to rectify the damage done, regaining our customers’ trust, and getting on with our business,” CEO Jimmy Haslam said in the release.
This is undoubtedly good news for Pilot and its CEO Jimmy Haslam. While it doesn’t appear that anyone’s completely out of the woods just yet, it’s a step in the right direction. Haslam could still be found worthy of prosecution depending on what the investigation continues to uncover. That being said, it would appear that the government is getting at least something of a desirable outcome.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian is quoted in a news release detailed at the Knoxville News’ website. His quote sounds very much like a conclusion of sorts when he says, “The terms of this agreement, including the significant monetary penalty and the very serious consequences if Pilot fails to comply, demonstrate quite clearly that no corporation, no matter how big, influential, or wealthy, is above the law.”
And regardless of other details this is good news for Browns fans. As the owner of the Cleveland Browns, it is much better for Browns fans if the team’s owner isn’t in jeopardy of being imprisoned. With that in mind, this deal with the feds might be another good sign for Browns fans that the renewed focus on stability might actually be achievable.
It seems reasonable to assume that the government has been working hard on this case and uncovered huge amounts of details with ten previous guilty pleas obtained from former Pilot employees. If they were going to catch the biggest of all fish at Pilot, I’m guessing charges would have been filed for Haslam before a settlement agreement was reached.