Two employees of the truck stop chain owned by the family of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam pleaded guilty today in a federal probe of the company's business practices.
Regional sales director Arnold Ralenkotter pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn. Regional accounts representative Ashley Smith Judd also pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
They are the first to be charged in the investigation. Federal prosecutors allege members of Pilot's sales team deliberately withheld rebates to boost Pilot profits and pad sales commissions.
Pilot Flying J spokesman Tom Ingram has issued the following statement: “The statements released by the federal court today do not come as a surprise given what we’ve been learning in our own internal investigations, but are nonetheless disappointing. We want to assure our customers that we are taking every step to correct any wrongdoing that has occurred and to make certain that it does not happen again.”
Haslam, who bought the Browns from Randy Lerner for about $1 billion last year, has insisted he didn't know about any fraud scheme being run by his company.