A federal appellate court overturned the convictions of former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood and two members of his direct sales team on Wednesday, ruling a lower court judge shouldn’t have allowed jurors to hear a recording that included “deeply offensive racist and misogynistic language.”
In its two-to-one panel ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, struck down the convictions of Hazelwood and two former sales team executives, Scott Wombold and Heather Jones, over allowing prosecutors to play a secret recording of Hazelwood spewing “profanities about African Americans and women,” according to court documents.
The fuel rebate scandal rocked the truck stop dynasty in April 2013 after the FBI and the IRS raided Pilot’s corporate headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The truck stop chain reached a $92 million agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in July 2014 over the 15-month probe of its fuel rebate scheme that targeted customers it considered “too unsophisticated to catch on.”
Wombold, convicted of wire fraud, was sentenced to 6 years in prison. Jones, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, received a 2.5-year sentence.
This is a developing story.
Read more articles by FreightWaves Senior Editor Clarissa Hawes.
Shuttered California carrier files for bankruptcy
Texas trucking company closes its doors, sources say
Small-business truckers among those owed after Texas carrier files Chapter 11
Truckers owed thousands after Texas carrier files bankruptcy