Burch: Take me to your Pilot

Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

When Bill Haslam was elected governor of Tennessee, he quickly signed an executive order eliminating a requirement for the governor and his top aides to disclose how much money they earn. Haslam had been roundly criticized during his campaign for refusing to say how much he made from Pilot Corporation, the parent company of Pilot Flying J, a national truck stop chain with annual revenues of around $29 billion.

Now that the FBI has filed an 120-page affidavit accusing Pilot of defrauding its customers for years, to the tune of millions of dollars, by deliberately under-calculating earned rebates on sales of diesel fuel, a natural questions will be: “What did Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam know and did he participate in the alleged enormous scam?”

Bill Haslam was the president of Pilot from 1995 to 2002. One would have to believe or strongly suspect that as the president of a multi-billion-dollar company, he would have known about major billing and rebate/discount policies that affected company profitability and its relationships with major clients. During Haslam’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, his fellow Republicans frequently brought up price-gouging allegations leveled against Pilot in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Ike. With these new allegations of unethical behavior on the part of Pilot, Tennessee voters may begin to ask if there may be real fires where there is so much smoke.

Federal investigators have not yet disclosed how high into Pilot’s management ranks they believe the purported fraud reached. But the FBI affidavit names senior sales managers, including John Freeman, vice president of sales, and Brian Mosher, director of national sales. The affidavit also says that Mark Hazelwood, the company’s president, was aware of the alleged rebate scam.

Especially eye-opening is the account of how Freeman ended up buying a plane from Western Express (a company based here in Nashville). When Western told Pilot that it had discovered a huge shortfall, Freeman offered to cut Western a check. Instead, according to the FBI affidavit, Western asked Pilot to buy a plane for a million dollars.

“So I bought the (expletive) airplane,” Freeman said, according to the affidavit.

Freeman then implicated Pilot’s highest management, according to page 81 of the affidavit. (CHS stands for “confidential human source.” “Jimmy” is Jimmy Haslam. “Mark” is Mark Hazelwood.)

CHS-2: What does Mark and Jimmy say about (expletive) like that? Do they even catch it or do they know?

FREEMAN: (Expletive). I mean, I called Jimmy and told him I got busted at Western Express.

CHS-2: What’d he say?

FREEMAN: Oh he knew it.

CHS-2: Oh did he?

FREEMAN: Absolutely. I mean, he knew all along that I was cost-plussin’ this guy. He knew it all along. Loved it. We were makin’ $450,000 a month on him.

CHS-2: Holy (expletive)!

FREEMAN: — why wouldn’t he love it?

CHS-2: Yeah.

FREEMAN: Did it for five years, cost us a million bucks. I mean, we made $6 million on the guy, cost us a million bucks.

So it seems likely that Pilot’s high-ranking management not only knew about the scam, but may have endorsed it. With so much money at stake, we can expect Pilot’s clients to review their own records and file lawsuits in attempts to recoup their losses. So we may soon know whether any of the alleged fraud occurred during Bill Haslam’s presidency of the company.

 

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

61 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 4/26/13 at 4:55

Excellent missive, Mike Burch.

Billy Haslam made a conscious decision to maintain his ties to the family business, he should have placed his financial holdings into a blind trust while serving as Governor of TN. That decision was both selfish and foolish. Since the governor did not separate or distance himself from the mega-rip-off operation, the Governor is rightfully in the federal cross-hairs; his glaring conflict of interest should never have been tolerated by the voters.

The governor's family is engaging in highway robbery, hosing the motoring public at the pumps to the tune of 30 billion per year....and one of the highwaymen is also the governor of the state of Tennessee.....git a rope!

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 6:16

To accuse is one thing, Mike. To prove is another, and Gov. Haslam isn't guilty until proven so.

But ya know what? I'm just wondering: Why hasn't the FBI made any investigation on Barack Obama? Isn't curious that branch of the USA's security interested in the protection of our nation isn't curious as to why Obama refuses to identify himself?

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 6:17

Sorry, I meant to say Isn't it curious....

By: Captain Nemo on 4/26/13 at 7:30

There is reasonable cause to think that our Governor may not be on the up and up. This is too bad; because he was the best Tennessee had to offer for state leadership. He was by far the best the GOP had and by far the best the Democrats had during the campaign. I hope this is not the case.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/26/13 at 7:31

How about lunch today, in Gordonsville yogi.

By: govskeptic on 4/26/13 at 7:33

Per Mr. Burch and Loner, one would think our Governor is right up there
with the "Knock of Jihadis" as our distinguished Vice Pres. would say.
Lots of quotes etc made in this article, but I've read nothing that refuted
the well known fact that Gov. Haslam has had nothing to do with the
management or running of Pilot for many years now. Just trash talk.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/26/13 at 8:01

It is getting about the time for our naked emperor to post how the lower class is manufacturing lies about the upper class and this is just a hoax.

By: Blip on 4/26/13 at 8:30

Don't worry, Haslam, the hypnotized lower middle class of TN isn't listening anyway. They'll continue you to like you even after you get out of jail.

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 9:13

When you accuse, you should be prepared to prove. That is if you're an honest, law-abiding, citizen.

Listen and read; you might learn something. For you others, just read then listen. You might learn something, too.

By: bfra on 4/26/13 at 9:21

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 10:13
When you accuse, you should be prepared to prove. That is if you're an honest, law-abiding, citizen.

========================================
Practice what your preach you ole fool!

By: BenDover on 4/26/13 at 9:23

Billing and rebate anomalies are as common as the morning sun in B2B transactions. There are even companies dedicated to auditing everything from your Carrier billings to your Utility bills who make a small margin on any savings they might root out.

Sounds like Pilot and Western came to a settlement in the matter. I don't know why the feds are involved except to flex their muscle and influence for, possibly, political purposes.

Caveat emptor -- let the companies work it out among themselves or sue each-other if they discover some impropriety.

By: budlight on 4/26/13 at 9:32

Gov, it's always been and always will be that the "have not's" want the "haves" to fail, cause the have nots have not actually done anything worthy to contribute to society or to JOB PRODUCTION.

If it were not for places like Pilot, where would these people work?

All these McDonald's folks and now Victoria's Secret clerks want $15.00 an hour. It is not rocket science to serves burgers and ring up the sale, yet many times they get it wrong.

And selling panties and thongs? Oh my gosh! I guess these people think that women can't just come in and select their own undies. So they want the same pay as a Medical Assistant or person with a 2 year associate starting out. Nope! $8.50 to $9.00 is enough to ring up a cash register.

By: bfra on 4/26/13 at 9:37

Ben - If that was a Democrat, you would be yelling for "BLOOD"! You repubs are so transparent.

By: pswindle on 4/26/13 at 9:37

It looks to me that the FBI as an airtight case. They would have never gone into the company without all of the evidence that they needed. I could not believe that Gov. Haslam would not release any of his income taxes, and the people of TN let him get away with it. At least, we did not let Romney hoo-doo us, too. If you go back and check, you will find that almost every bill that was passed and signed was put in place to help the Haslams. Now, I know why he wanted to be governor, he has shaped the state the way he wanted it. He should resign, because he will be unable to govern because he no creditability. Just another GOP taking from the little guy for profit.

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 9:38

Well, bfra, it seems you only know how to accuse me wrong, but you never offer any proof you're right.

Why, because you don't have any?

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 9:46

pswindle,

If they had all the evidence they needed, why even go into the company, just file suit.

And you mention Gov. Haslam "redesigning" the state the way he wanted. I never read, or heard, of him making such remarks.

So why not mention Barry's remarks about "reshaping" your federal government the way he has from his beginning in the race?

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 9:49

The repubs are transparent, bfra? Well, at least they aren't like you dumolecraps and can see beyond their nose.

By: BenDover on 4/26/13 at 9:54

Actually, no, I wouldn't bfra. The projection you use to justify the conservative witch hunts and to rationalize 'bad' behavior by any liberal you support is largely unfounded.

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 9:59

bfra behavior is unfounded, BedDover? Hell, she only knows how to whistle in the wind, how can she found her accusations?

By: budlight on 4/26/13 at 10:00

pswindle on 4/26/13 at 10:37
It looks to me that the FBI as an airtight case. They would have never gone into the company without all of the evidence that they needed. I could not believe that Gov. Haslam would not release any of his income taxes, and the people of TN let him get away with it. At least, we did not let Romney hoo-doo us, too. If you go back and check, you will find that almost every bill that was passed and signed was put in place to help the Haslams. Now, I know why he wanted to be governor, he has shaped the state the way he wanted it. He should resign, because he will be unable to govern because he no creditability. Just another GOP taking from the little guy for profit.

Could be another misstep, swindle. The FBI by virtue of the word Federal in their name is inept and a clutter-flock of lame and mad birds. They are inept, to say the least. They couldn't catch flies with flypaper! Feds. Ha, ha, ha.

By: bfra on 4/26/13 at 10:40

Ben, yogi, bud and the rest of you cross links between traitors, liars & anti Americans: When you get some evidence or proof of what you post, be sure to add that in your next comment.

By: pswindle on 4/26/13 at 11:37

Do you think that Jimmy and Billy would not ask why their company was buying another company a million dollar airplane? So, "What did you know and when did you know it?" Has our Governor gone silent? Greed is a sad life because you are always looking over your shoulder because someone knows something. When you have minutes, voice recording, and videos you are pretty much on the record.

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 11:40

I'll have to admit, bfra, you are one of the best jokers on this site. All you have to do is "open your mouth" and your BS (accusations) comes out like you was sitting on a commode with the door open for all to see.

You claim others should prove their point, but not you, you're exempt. Well, unless you're knowingly considering him a good usurper by calling BHO a crook and a damn liar, you should read his book and ones written about him. So prove your claims, da2.

There is also a few more books on him you probably would love; that is if you read his autobiography as a word of truth.

Try reading "The Manchurian President" by Aaron Klein, "Muslin Mafia" by P. David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry, "The Book on Obama; His Friends, His Lies & His Plans" by Steve Elliot & John Aman, "Change We can Believe In" [Barack Obama's plan to renew America's Promise], "The Obama Nation", [Leftist politics and the Cult of personality] by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D. and "Where's the Birth Certificate?" [the case Barack Obama is not eligible to by president by Jerome R. Corsi.

By: bfra on 4/26/13 at 11:50

yogi - Corsi's book got pulled off the shelf & everyone that bought it was offered a refund. Since you group all of these so-called authors together, are they all of the same sorid character?

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 12:19

Only in your mind, da2. I forgot to mention Barry's autobiography "Dreams from My Father". Read it first then read the others and tell me what you think of your man who refuses to prove who he is.

By: bfra on 4/26/13 at 1:09

yogi - You don't even recognize a FACT when it hits you in the head. Oh I forgot nothing gets to your head, because it stays up your arse.

By: pswindle on 4/26/13 at 1:34

It doesn't matter what topic is being discussed, Yogi goes on this birther thing. He needs help. If there were any truth to this rumor, it would have been exposed, already. Thousands have checked it out and found nothing. The books that he has read are written by the Tea Party or Racist individuals.

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 2:16

Well, well, pswindle,

It looks like there has been a few arrests in Indiana on voter fraud for Barry's and Hillary's. ballot petitions

Listen to the people who deny the signatures place on the nominee papers in 2008.

www.foxnews.com/2013/04/26/officials-found-guilty-in-obama-clinton-ballot-petition-fraud/#ixzz2Rb8ruzZK/

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 2:20

Well, da2, it looks like your man Barry beat Hillary in their fraud race to get on the ballot in Indiana.

Just wondering, how many other states did they illegally signed their ballots for the citizens that didn't want to sign them?

By: bfra on 4/26/13 at 2:28

yogi you can't even provide a viable link to what ever you are ranting about. More lies huh?

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 3:53

What do you call that Fox News report, da2. a lie? I don't believe they're like the Obama supporting media.

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 4:25

Wanna read another article on your man's voter fraud, da2? Go to:

www.wnd.com/2013/04/jury-fraud-put-obama-on-08-ballot/

Try it, you might not like it.

By: pswindle on 4/26/13 at 5:56

Nothing Fox reports is true. They have been called out on most everything that they say.
They just say what the GOP wants to hear.

By: yogiman on 4/26/13 at 10:13

So tell me, which news cast is true, only the ones in favor of Barry Soetoro?

By: Loner on 4/27/13 at 6:29

Troll droppings ruined this comment board....trolls are trashing the Nashville City Paper's online product....slackjawed birthers have found themselves a home here.....this has driven many thoughtful posters from this site....this must be a conscious decision on the part of the NCP's head shed.....this once-great site is now tin-foil hat central.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/27/13 at 7:12

Good morning Loner. How are you?

By: Loner on 4/27/13 at 8:05

I'm doing great, Captain...I'm in Niagara Falls, NY...attending a UU Convention...I'm a delegate. (Whoop-dee-doo.)

Heading over to the Canadian side of the border this afternoon...I'll be visiting several Canadian wineries today and tomorrow....the Canucks make the best ice wines, IMO....and Sauvignon Blanc....I love great varietal white wines.....up here, we can grow excellent white grapes...but the reds do not get enough sun and heat to be competitive with the California reds...again, IMO.

How are you doing?

By: Captain Nemo on 4/27/13 at 8:12

I wish I was there too. I can still hear the roar of the falls. Enjoy yourself! :-)

By: yogiman on 4/27/13 at 8:19

Who is on the "troll" side of the board, Loner, you, or me, and others who see this usurper in office for what he is? Maybe you should do a little research on him and look at what he has done to our nation so far. And I can guarantee you, he ain't done yet.

By: bfra on 4/27/13 at 8:27

The trolls recognize who they are, then jump in to drop another big turd!

By: Captain Nemo on 4/27/13 at 8:59

How about lunch, yogi? You seem to need someone attention today.

By: yogiman on 4/27/13 at 9:10

Is that why how you recognize yourself, da2. you smell you own crap?

Make all the accusations on me you wish. I'm still waiting on one of you Obama fans to explain how he became a [natural born citizen (as required by the Constitution to become president) with an American citizen his mother and a Kenyan British subject his father.

By: yogiman on 4/27/13 at 9:15

Sorry, dumba$$, I don't need anyone's attention. Not even yours.

But I'll put it this way: If you want to meet me for "whatever reason", I go to the American Legion meeting the 2nd Tuesday of each month. We meet at 7PM. If you're a veteran, feel free to come as a guest and we can meet. Our next meeting will be May 14.

By: Ask01 on 4/27/13 at 1:08

In my opinion, Governor Haslam shot himself in the foot when he hurriedly signed the order eliminating the requirement for revelation of income.

He can deny any connection all he wants, but the perception will persist among the public that he is hiding something in regards to the Pilot Flying J debacle.

He will probably survive in state politics providing, of course, the investigation doesn't lead to the governors mansion.

The real challange will be if little Billy decides to move up to the national level where this could, in the hands of the right spin meister, dash any hopes of a nationwide political future.

By: Captain Nemo on 4/27/13 at 2:04

I think you have nail it Ask01. Deception in now a main topic.

By: yogiman on 4/27/13 at 2:46

Why should Haslam or anyone else be required to offer a view of their income or wealth? Why should it be "open to the public"? It's pretty well known in politics if you're a crook you'll be exposed in short order.

By: yogiman on 4/27/13 at 3:31

Are your kids keeping you busy this weekend, Ask01? Want a good article to read? Go to: www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama#.UXxCTMqWapv/ There's only 10 chapters in it.

By: pswindle on 4/27/13 at 4:21

This investigation will not stop at the Governor's door. He is too involved in the business for the door not to open. I truly believe that when it starts to really get dirty, he will resign. He will not have a choice. These rebates had to have been going on for a long time for them to make millions off of them.

By: dargent7 on 4/27/13 at 4:46

This whole senario is errily similar to Cheney and Halliburton....
The sob invades Iraq and tells everyone, 'It's not about the OIL..."
Corruption at it's finest.

By: bfra on 4/27/13 at 4:56

Evidently the repubs thrive on corruption.