Haslam-owned truck-stop chain to pay $92 million fine over rebate scam

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam answers questions during a news-conference Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Berea, Ohio. Tony Dejak, AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Authorities say the truck-stop company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has agreed to pay $92 million in fines for cheating customers out of promised rebates and discounts.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Pilot Flying J has accepted responsibility for the criminal conduct of its employees, ten of whom have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme.

The agreement was signed Friday by attorneys for the nation's largest diesel retailer. The agreement does not protect any individual at Pilot from prosecution and requires the company to cooperate with an ongoing investigation of current and former employees.

Jimmy Haslam has said he was unaware of the scheme. Through a spokesman, he declined an interview on Monday, but issued a statement.

"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," he said, per CBS affiliate WOIO. "We've been committed from the beginning of this to doing the right thing, and that remains our commitment."

In the agreement, WOIO reports, Pilot confirmed that fraudulent conduct involving diesel fuel price discounts was prevalent and some employees planned to expand the scheme.

Gov. Bill Haslam holds an undisclosed ownership share in the company but has said he is not involved in Pilot's day-to-day operations.

Pilot agreed in November to pay out nearly $85 million to settle claims in a class-action lawsuit with 5,500 trucking companies. Several companies have filed separate lawsuits against Pilot that are ongoing.

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