Today’s Pickup: 4 accept plea deals in Pilot Flying J fraud

Pilot Flying J

Good day,

Four of the defendants in the Pilot Flying J federal fraud trial have reached plea deals with prosecutors, according to documents filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Eight former Pilot Flying J employees are facing charges related to a fuel-rebate fraud, according to WBIR in Tennessee. The remaining four are still scheduled for trial in October.

The four reaching deals include John Freeman, former vice president of sales; John Spiewak, former regional sales manager in Ohio; Vicki Borden, former director of wholesale and inside sales; and Katy Bibee, a former account representative.

Freeman faces up to 20 years in prison and $25,000 in fines after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.

“We are saddened by news of the pleas of four people who worked for Pilot Flying J acknowledging that they participated in defrauding some of our diesel fuel customers,” Pilot Flying J said in a statement. “After learning of such improper activities more than four years ago, we made whole every customer negatively affected; entered into a Criminal Enforcement Agreement with the government, which included a $92 million penalty; continued to cooperate with the investigation; and made policy, procedure and staff changes to make certain nothing like this happens again.”

Still waiting to stand trial are former Pilot President Mark Hazelwood; Scott Wombold, former vice president of national accounts; former account representative Heather Jones; and Karen Mann, former regional account representative.

According to WBIR, two former employees have been granted immunity in the case for cooperating and 10 other former employees have already pleaded guilty to various charges. Those employees are Arnold Ralenkotter, Northeast regional sales director; Ashley Judd, an account representative; Holly Radford, a regional account representative; Jay Stinnett, who worked with senior sales executives; Kevin Clark, regional sales manager out of Kansas City, Mo.; and Scott Fenwich, western regional sales manager out of Salt Lake City; Janet Welch, former Pilot senior account manager; Christopher W. Andrews, a regional sales manager based in Dallas, and Lexie Holden, a sales representative in Knoxville.

Did you know?

It is estimated that 20% of the truck driver population suffers from sleep apnea, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Quotable:

“You can make a decent living. It’s a way that you can come from where you were to being a productive member of society.”

- Marcus Trimble, a felon, told Trucks.com

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Final Thoughts

With four more people striking plea deals in the Pilot Flying J fuel rebate scandal, it reinforces a point about carriers keeping a watchful eye on expenses. It doesn't mean cracking down on spending, necessarily, but it does mean ensuring that all money is accounted for, as evenmissing pennies can add up to significant money.

Hammer down everyone!