FBI alleges fraudulent scheme by Pilot Flying J, “with the knowledge of” Jimmy Haslam, to target unsophisticated customers

by Cleveland Frowns on April 18, 2013

This afternoon, the FBI released an affidavit that was used to obtain the warrants for Tuesday’s search and seizure executed at Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s Pilot Flying J headquarters. The 120-page document contains allegations that company employees have, for “many years,” with the knowledge of Haslam and other top executives, engaged in a scheme to defraud unsophisticated customers out of money owed to them by way of a company rebate program.

The Plain Dealer’s John Caniglia summarizes as follows:

A 120-page affidavit for a search warrant filed in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn., says Pilot Flying J sales employees withheld fuel price rebates and discounts from certain companies to boost the profitability of the company and increase their sales commissions. The affidavit says FBI and IRS agents are investigating charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud.

The document says “the rebate fraud has occurred with the knowledge of Pilot’s current President Mark Hazelwood and Pilot’s Chief Executive Officer James A. “Jimmy” Haslam III, due to the fact that the rebate fraud-related activities have been discussed during sales meetings in Knoxville, Tenn., in which Hazelwood and Haslam have been present.”

* * *

The document, written by an FBI agent who specializes in public corruption and white-collar crime, said the investigation began May 4, 2011, when a source told the FBI that Pilot employees had been targeting some companies who were “too unsophisticated to catch that their agreed-upon deal with Pilot was being changed to benefit Pilot without the knowledge of those customers.’

While it’s not clear exactly what Haslam knew about the scheme, he’s mentioned on 14 pages of the affidavit (easily searchable here), including most significantly:

A reference on Page 21 to a meeting where Haslam allegedly “thanked” certain prominent participants in the scheme “for saving Pilot money;”

A reference on Page 66 to a meeting where Haslam was allegedly present while employees “ma[de] reference to … previous deceptive conduct;”

A reference on Page 72 to an email “[stating] that Jimmy Haslam and John Freeman were looking carefully at every Customer’s profit and loss report and consolidating duplicate entries … [T]he increased profit from Rebate Fraud would be clearly evident to Jimmy Haslam and John Freeman;”

And a reference on Page 78 to a conversation with John Freeman recorded by a confidential informant that’s described as one in which the participants “discuss … that Mark Hazelwood and Jimmy Haslam were aware of Freeman’s deceptive activity directed at Customer Western Express.” There’s an excerpt of this conversation provided, with the reference to Haslam at Page 81:

“What does Mark (Hazelwood) and Jimmy (Haslam) say about sh*t like that,” the informant asked.

“F*ckin A,” Freeman replied. “I mean, I called Jimmy and told him I got busted at Western Express.”

“What did he say?”

“Oh, he knew it.”

“Oh, he did?”

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

“Holy sh*t!”

“Why wouldn’t he love it?”

Caniglia explains that this conversation relates to a deal that the company cut when one of its customers, Western Express, “audited its bill and calculated that it had been shorted $1 million.”

When Western told Pilot Flying J about the shortfall, the two companies negotiated an unusual settlement.

John Freeman, Pilot Flying J’s vice president for sales, offered to cut the business a check. Instead, Western asked Pilot Flying J to buy a plane, for which Western owed $1 million.

“So, I bought the (expletive) airplane,” Freeman told colleagues in a conversation secretly recorded by the FBI informant. “It was so broke that the (expletive) wasn’t airworthy. So we had to sell it in Nashville.”

The Western payback became legendary among the company sales force, which joked about it during many of the meetings that the FBI informant secretly recorded.

On a look at the affidavit, the possibility that Haslam escapes personal criminal liability can’t be ruled out (“beyond a reasonable doubt” is the applicable standard), even if his company or certain of his employees aren’t so lucky. But it doesn’t look good for him here. There’s a number of questions about the implications for Haslam’s ownership of the Browns pending the final outcome of this investigation, even if he’s found only to be an owner and CEO of a company that engaged in a fraudulent scheme without his (direct or imputed) knowledge. In any event, there looks to be plenty of evidence of the alleged scheme itself, regardless of what Jimmy knew (or should have known) and when he knew (or should have known) it. Lower level employees are sure to be offered deals to flip on their higher-ups, and affidavit specifically notes that the document “is intended to show only that there is sufficient probable cause for the requested warrant and does not set forth all of [his] knowledge about [the] matter.”

Of course, the feds only got to execute their warrant this week, so what’s contained in the affidavit could well be the tip of the iceberg, and again, it will almost certainly be quite some time before this issue is resolved. Still a tremendous distraction for the Browns owner, and the skies over the Browns organization aren’t looking any brighter today than they were when news of the raid broke two days ago.

—————

RELATED: Jimmy Handcuffs? FBI and IRS agents raid Browns owner’s Pilot Flying J headquarters in Tennessee

  • nj0

    “for “many years,” with the knowledge of Haslam and other top
    executives, engaged in a scheme to defraud unsophisticated customers out
    of money”

    Haslam hasn’t owned the Browns for many years.

  • Beeej

    Was Randy mentioned in the affidavit?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.gehling.5 Robert Gehling

    Wtf, only in Cleveland. GIMME SOME MORE, WE CAN TAKE IT!

    • CleveLandThatILove

      Yes, hit us again, we’re still breathing.
      It’s a real live soap opera living in this town. “As the Wahoo Turns.” Or “As the Dumpsterfire Burns.” Hey, maybe Seth McFarlane can get started on a couple of spin-offs from “The Cleveland Show.”

      • http://twitter.com/ChrisInCLE Chris Mc

        Like fans through the turnstiles. These are the days of our lives.

  • CleveLandThatILove

    First, you read that whole damn thing and wrote a summary already, you are officially a freak and we love it.

    Second, the Feds were there for quite a while but we don’t know what they took. Does the affidavit have to specify what they are allowed to seize or can they just take anything and have at it?

    I mean, God only knows what else they might find.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      I might still officially be a freak, but at this point I’ve only skimmed the document and spot checked all the references to Haslam.

      The affidavit sets forth what they wanted the authority to seize, which I believe boils down to “pretty much every document and hard drive in the building.”

      Yes, “God only knows what else they might find.”

      • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

        Post updated. On a closer look, it’s really not looking good for Jimmy.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1kbBmlAvdI PML

          Can’t wait to see the paper trail. I hope some of these idiots communicated with Jimmy via text or email.

  • MSkog

    The question I have, and it very well may be too soon to answer this, is what are the possible outcomes in a case like this? Are we talking huge fines, like in some SEC cases? Or might there be actually jail time for key participants? How likely would it be to plea bargain down a case like this? Would any resolution of the federal case prevent a civil case occurring, brought by those parties thought to be defrauded?

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Huge fines are the most likely possibility, jail time for key participants is also possible, plea bargains are likely, as they are in almost every prosecution, and nothing about the federal case precludes plaintiffs from bringing civil cases.

      My main questions right now relate to what the NFL can do to force an owner to sell.

      • bupalos

        Let’s remember this is just the initial warrant and a glimpse at part of what what went down with ONE customer. I think it’s entirely plausible given the reaction that this was systemic and/or that they laundered this action off the books. Nothing in the warrant explains for me why the IRS was there, except possibly the 1MM plane “payment” being a tax avoidance.

      • Jim

        I think part of this depends on what else they find. Probable cause is not a very hard burden to meet, and depending on the scope of the warrant (and most are written broadly), the feds very well may find a pattern and practice of defrauding customers in order to increase profits (cough – RICO – cough) to obtain indictments against those in the corporate hierarchy at the Flying J.

    • jpftribe

      Feds raided another TN company, Gibson. Investigation lasted years, no charges ever filed. But it was obvious Gibson set up a third party to illegally import wood from third world countries. They lost millions in raw materials seized and never returned.

      May seem petty to some, but all of their competitors found ways to comply with the laws and treaties. Gibson tried to mount a pr campaign that the laws were unfair to US workers. Tell it to Fender, Martin or Taylor.

      Not really digging all the political debate. Right is right, wrong is wrong. If you are a scumbag, all’s fair in love and war.

  • jamick6000

    Dan Gilbert is the big loser in all of this, Haslam is about to take his only title, “greasiest fraudster to own a cleveland sports team”

  • humboldt

    There has never been a more propitious moment to push for public ownership of the Browns. Let’s generate a groundswell!

    • alexb

      ^^^^This this this this this this this

  • alexb

    Ok now I’m in no way trivializing what the govt is accusing Pilot of doing, it’s dirty as hell. Now that I’ve made that clear, it’s still puzzling to me why they’re dinging up a good ole boy over this. As much as I detest these kinds of business practices, guess what this is the American economy in a nutshell. Everyone is trying to get over on someone else. If the govt cared about rebate fraud or similar stuff, they could ding up every fortune 500 corp in court for the next 50 years. I mean I’d be glad if the govt was able to get every little sack of sht company that pulls this shit, but realistically it ain’t possible. I smell something along the lines of that they wanted him on something bigger but couldn’t put the case together so they’re gonna ding him on a lesser charge. He did something to piss off uncle sam.

    • http://twitter.com/DaveKolonich Dave Kolonich

      Agreed x 1000. Haslam or someone in Haslam’s family pissed somebody off. Wondering (Speculating) what the bigger connection is in regards to oil, fracking, environmental concerns, etc.

      Or, it’s more than possible that Haslam (like Lerner before him) just operates in a completely sheltered existence. It must be nice having your brother as Governor.

    • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

      If lefty thugs a)existed and b) ruled the world to the extent that this suggests, a privatizing, union-busting, voucher freak like Haslam would have been picked up in the black helicopter and stomped by the liberal jackboot long ago.”

      if i can express a nuanced point: i’m not in favor of screwing customers and this Justice Dept action was as jackboot-ish as it gets in 2013.

      • NeedsFoodBadly

        I think you might want to wait until more details are released before you go down that road, kanick.

        • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

          i was going to hold off on this, but i have to point out that it’s not tinhat at all to suggest a political motivation. holder has been very selective with his what he does and does not investigate. the irs has lately been chicago-style in the auditing of groups they don’t like.

          from here, it’s looking like a lynch mob is forming to get the rich guy. there are a lot of people here who might hold off on making judgements.

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            You’re jumping to major conclusions way too early is what I am saying. I’m all for skepticism of power, but you actually are crossing over into tinhat territory when you stop talking about this stuff like it’s a semi-possibility and saying that it’s some sort of fascistic reality, all before any actual details are known.

            Why haven’t any other businesses that were publicly critical of Obamacare subject to federal raids? Did Papa John get a visit? No. Probably because the likeliest conclusion is that Halsam was engaged in illegal practices that deserve an investigation.

            Toxic kneejerk talking point rhetoric seems like something you should be smarter than. You’re a deeper thinker than that.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            you understand that the toxic kneejerk rhetoric that i cited/linked above was not initiated by me, right?

            if my bona-fides aren’t established here, i’ll shut it down, no prob.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Good grief, here we go again. It’s not toxic if it’s right, Jim. Of course your “bona fides” on these issues aren’t established here or anywhere decent. LOLOLOL re: “jackboot-ish.” The most likely outcome here is heavy fines, leaving this guy perfectly free to keep stepping on people and destroying the planet, so you should probably lighten up if you’re that worried about anyone stopping him.

            Relatedly, this is a good read. http://grist.org/business-technology/none-of-the-worlds-top-industries-would-be-profitable-if-they-paid-for-the-natural-capital-they-use/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter

            Competition! Let god sort ’em out! It’s the Kanicki way.

          • humboldt

            I wouldn’t pursue this path Jim, the facts are not there

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            I’m not sure how I was questioning your bona fides or how bup’s sentiment is toxic rhetoric when he’s refuting a weird characterization (not making an allegation of his own).

            My problem is with the conflation of possibility vs the actual facts as they stand on the ground. It seems to me like you’ve already written this off as political retribution and aren’t discussing it in terms of possibility. That’s my problem. The extent of the fraud hasn’t been fully outlined yet, the extent of the crimes under investigation – no one’s even been indicted. This is why I view labeling this as politically motivated as a kneejerk reaction.

            Again, I ask – if you honestly believe this is a politically instigated “chicago style” act of retribution, why aren’t there federal agents knocking down doors at Papa John HQ? Or any number of more visible Obamacare opponents?

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            tinhat was your word in reference to a suggestion of political retribution; nuance was my word.

            i have not written this off as political retribution. i said the heavy handed action for a rebate scam of unknown dollar amount suggests a political motivation. <–nuance.

            [it's better expressed in the prelude of this post here with the fuller thought: “…and kinda leaving open the door for speculation on politically motivated use of the Justice Department as there is precedent for AG Holder’s questionable discretionary use of his office.” this is a more accurate take on my opinion. sorry i didn’t flesh it out here with more care, but i really didn’t expect the reaction.]

            but regarding your dismissal of a political angle, if you think politically motivated use of the IRS is tinhat, i found this in a 5 second google search. thus the ‘suggestion’ of political motivation is not tinhat at all. ignoring the possibility is.

            for this, i get the smarmy paste-eating comments? really? LIKE BUTTONS?

            hey sorry to express a different opinion here guys. going back to my paste now. cripes.

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            “this Justice Dept action was as jackboot-ish as it gets in 2013”

            Your words. Not nuanced.

            Your google link points to a lot of accusations so I don’t know what you’re trying to prove there…? Also, I’m not denying the possibility that the IRS can perform politically motivated audits. This isn’t an audit. This is a criminal investigation which is still in the earliest stages of investigation. Which is why I say that writing it off as a jackbooted activity is speculative at best.

            Again, you refuse to answer my question. If Obama or Holder is directing the IRS and the FBI to attack opponents of Obamacare, why hasn’t it happened elsewhere? Or, more simply, is it possible that Flying J is under investigation for criminal activities… because they committed criminal acts, unrelated to political stance?

            You might say you’re speculating in some sentences, but in other sentences you are outlining your speculation as happenstance. That is what I take issue with.

            EDIT: And you say to hold off on judgment, in the same breath you talk about lynch mobs forming. All I’m saying is you should hold off your own judgement until more facts are in, because we are still in VERY EARLY STAGES of investigation. I don’t think that’s a terribly harsh thing to express.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            pfft. you just have to go to holder’s wiki to see that he doesn’t think black panthers in paramilitary gear is a voter intimidation; was held in contempt of congress on the fast and furious investigation. here’s a link and sorry in advance that it’s not from huffpo… weird that they don’t run stories critical of holder.

          • bupalos

            Let me just sum up torture-apologist Marc Thiessen’s article linked there

            1. Eric Holder does not believe in torture despite it being popular, tries to uphold the laws protecting the civil and human rights of suspects, doesn’t think black people in camouflage are sufficiently scary to ban from public places, and isn’t sure states can pass laws that encourage the police to detain and question anyone they think looks, um…. un-American. Therefore he is grossly incompetent and politically motivated.

            Actually, Thiessen doesn’t even make the second half of that last claim.

            Seriously Kanick? Thiessen? Gross.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            [knew that was coming!]
            lol.. as i said… not found on huffpo!

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            It’s cool that you dislike Holder so much, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m talking about other than to ask why Holder wouldn’t be going after all these other people who screwed with him, and is instead going after Flying J?

            Again, my points are:

            a. hold off judgement on an investigation in the very earliest stages

            b. if this is some sort of politically motivated retribution, why Flying J and not Papa John, Rick Perry, et al? You still haven’t answered this.

            I don’t read huffpo so while I’m not sure what you’re insinuating, it has nothing to do with me.

          • Jim

            “black panthers in paramilitary gear is a voter intimidation…” you mean that one black guy standing outside a polling place in Philly in 2008? The same guy that was the focal point of Fox News for months about the “intimidation” tactics of the left? That guy? Pardon me if I don’t get all over Eric Holder for not associating that individual with widespread voter intimidation of Republicans.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            It’s not that the opinion is different, Jim, it’s that it’s somewhere between ridiculous and loathsome. There are a lot of problems worth focusing on in this world. The idea that an administration that’s been an outrageous sop to corporate interests is somehow “forming a lynch mob to get the rich guy” here is decidedly not one of them.

            Yes, ALL the like buttons for the paste-eating comments. All opinions absolutely don’t deserve equal time, and it’s always funny to see who the first people are to suggest otherwise. And to be so indignant about it. Really, wake up.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            the lynch mob i was referring to is the groupthink on my twitter timeline and here on this forum.

            btw, my speculation of a PFJ link to truck-stop focused child sex-slavery was probably ridiculous and loathsome too, but no one called me a paste eater then.

            weird, huh?

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            Don’t complain about the paste-eating comment in the same breath you accuse people of committing groupthink. It’s just as dismissive as what you’re decrying. I know you’re a critical thinker. Please don’t tell me that I’m not.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            i dont know what else to call it. i can connect PFJ to the most heinous crimes and no prob; but suggest a dem cabinet office would target a prominent republican and i’m a tinhat.

          • NeedsFoodBadly

            I’m sorry, but that’s a lazy dismissal. I’m not engaged in any groupthink. I came to my conclusions on my own, I certainly haven’t been discussing this with anyone else. So whatever faults my thinking may have, it’s my own.

            I didn’t call you a tinhat, for what it’s worth – I said that jumping to conclusions without evidence was approaching tinhattery. If you want to say that you know this is a “jack-booted” action of “Chicago-style” retribution without knowing the actual content of the investigation, go ahead. But you’re the one who is blindly accepting a line of thinking without any evidence. Not me.

          • bupalos

            If you could bother to make the slightest case that PFJ isn’t especially guilty, or no more guilty than anyone else, then such a suggestion would be potentially warranted. But as it is, and at this point, it’s totally gratuitous. And in a way that simply wondering about the outer bounds of what PFJ might be up to (with prostitution, etc) isn’t.

          • nj0

            So what if it’s political retribution? The Haslams are billionaire oligarchs with heavy political influence. Comes with the territory.

            Want to avoid having your enemies using this kind of thing against you? Then don’t commit fraud. Don’t be in the room when your people talk about it. Don’t trade emails about it either. Seriously, how bush league is that?

            I have no sympathy or outrage when big boy capitalist free marketers who have every systematic advantage possible are too stupid to play by the few rules that are imposed on them.

            You roll in the environment that Haslam does, you should damn well expect this sort of thing. That he didn’t speaks mountains about his savy.

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            if youre cool with using the justice department for political retribution and at the same time taking offense to the term jackboot…

            showing myself out.

          • nj0

            i’m just as cool with it as you are with companies committing fraud and that going unpunished

          • jamick6000

            lmao “from here, it’s looking like a lynch mob is forming to get the rich guy.” *eats wooden spoon full of paste*

          • bupalos

            Watch out Kanick. Lie down with these particular fleas and you wakeup with a tinfoil tophat.

            If it was “screwing customers” you’d be looking at a civil matter. I guarantee the warrant is neither the beginning nor end of the issues here, and I don’t know how you think securing the data records that can prove the fraud could be done in any kinder, gentler way. Oh no, they had to turn their cell phones off for a half hour and miss an afternoon of work. The horror!

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            but yet, screwing customers is all there is in the probable cause docs.

            i can only hope this is a camel’s nose leading to some of the outfalls you and i discussed before.

            if this is all there is.. then yes, from here, it seems pretty heavy handed and does little to improve the greater good. ie, if this effort does not:

            * address/reduce truckstop crime culture or,
            * stop anti-competitive practices or,
            * uncover conspiratorial public/private environmental exploitation,

            then when such a high-profile investigation is not more impactful, questions will be raised about the motivation behind it.

          • bupalos

            I’m all for jumping the gun, you know that. But this just goes too far. It’s just a one-off used to get the warrant. It has no relation to the scope of what they may really be looking at. The rebate program itself may be anticompetitive in the sense you outlined before, and manipulating it so that you can fraudulently offer lower rates on paper than the customers really get would be an absolute classic case. Remember, they just drove their competitor to bankruptcy and bought them out (itself with major antitrust considerations) POSSIBLY BECAUSE OF THIS PROGRAM. So how about we not even vaguely try to tie this to Hillary Clinton’s murder of Vince Foster until the only element that supports such spitballing (the alleged insignificance of the wrongdoing) is in any way in evidence.

            BTW doncha just maybe kinda think that some of Haslam’s competitors (especially ones that were driven out of business) might just possibly have a little more animus towards him than Obama’s army of Chicago Jackboots?

          • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

            indeed the acquisition of flying j was most definitely suspect and without heavy research on it, seems to have been non-competitive. how it got through FTC? probably a good story there. and THAT is the stuff to shut down a company for.

            we’re on the same page here in hoping there’s more to the story. my point is and has been that, if this is all there is, it doesnt rise to the level of interdiction shown this week. to me.

            re: what’s possible politically.. the CEO’s brother is a rich republican governor and probably ambitious enough to seek higher office. it wouldnt be the first dirty trick in the history of politics and it’s naive to think such things only occur in a republican-screwing-dem way.

          • bupalos

            >>>how it got through FTC? probably a good story there. and THAT is the stuff to shut down a company for.>>>

            I just have no idea how you’ve come to the conclusion that this isn’t what it’s going to be about. To the point that it’s got you throwing around “politically motivated” scenarios.

          • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

            Uh, the conspiratorial public/private environmental exploitation is unfortunately as legal as ever special thanks to the folks you’ve been electing for the last 30 years, so cross that one off the list. http://grist.org/business-technology/none-of-the-worlds-top-industries-would-be-profitable-if-they-paid-for-the-natural-capital-they-use/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter

            And when corporations get as big as Pilot, they don’t have to worry about conspiring to fix prices because they can just undercut everyone else with perfectly legal economies of scale, no longer under the purview of Antitrust law thanks to its “evolution,” so cross that off the list as well.

            So we’re left with “truckstop crime culture.” What good is trying to stop a scumbag from conspiring to defraud his weakest customers if it doesn’t reduce “truckstop crime culture”? Might as well forget the whole thing.

          • jamick6000

            “Eric Holder, who made a boatload of money working for one of the world’s most powerful corporate law firms, is America’s Robespierre.” — an idiot

          • actovegin1armstrong

            Eat the Rich!

      • alexb

        well I don’t think it’s “politically” motivated, meaning some lefties didn’t like how he paraded Romney and Ryan infront of the browns practice, or something like that. They wouldn’t do this for something like that, c’mon you know better. What I’m suggesting is that they know he’s a bigger rat than they’re letting on but this is the only charge they can make stick.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      A lot of this is speculation. As I understand it, the affidavit is just giving reason for the warrant. No doubt a fuller investigation will bring to light the full totality of what’s going on. Claiming this is some retributive act from agents of the government is getting awfully tin-hat, at least until more details are known.

  • zarathustra

    If you own a business that can afford to be bilked for $450k a month and not know it you are not “unsophisticated. ” You are negligent. You are lazy. But you are not unsophisticated. I find it hard to sympathize with such a company. Regardless, we as browns fans are fucked no matter how this plays out.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      It’s called theft and it’s illegal. Sorry.

      • zarathustra

        That certainly may be so. My point though was hardly to defend haslem and his potentially very shady business practices, but merely to dispute the govt claim that western express were some poor unsophisticated rubes. That hardly seems the case

    • humboldt

      Because it’s always a good strategy to blame the victim…

      • zarathustra

        Sorry. I have a hard time sympathizing with a company that apparently went months unaware that they were being shorted nearly a half million per month and when discovered chose some shady deal for a private jet nstead of pursuing legal action. It seems possible that the such a trucking company may have some interesting books as well and may not deserve
        sypathy.

        • humboldt

          Thankfully your sympathies do not dictate our legal code. A few points:

          -Even if a victim of a crime is morally suspect that does not exonerate the perpetrator of the crime. I’m not sure why this seems to be such a difficult point to grasp.

          -You are choosing to focus on one victim in a scheme that has multiple victims, and it is causing you to form a straw man caricature about this case.

          • zarathustra

            I only addressed the one example of which we have knowledge. I made no statement about the other potential victims and by no means am suggesting that what has been alleged is not a crime and should not be punished if guilty. With the example that we have I suspect there may be more to the story and am not content to blindly accept the govt claim, particularly as it relates to characterizing what is a fairly large trucking operation as “unsophistcated.” This may be more nuanced than the way the govt has presented it. Perhaps not.

      • Ohiakotan

        “[F]ind[ing] it hard to sympthize with such a company and “blam[ing] the victim” are hardly the same thing. I am baffled that these companies could not notice that they are not receiving the rebate; seemingly the reason they are dealing with Pilot Flying J in the first place. Caveat–I am not experienced in running a trucking company (or any company, really) nor do I know the details of the alleged fraud. Perhaps it was very intricate and complex and masked the fact that the companies weren’t getting their rebates.

    • ChuckKoz

      “i have a hard time sympathizing with a prostitute being stabbed. should we even bother to prosecute the killer?”

      – zarathustras logic

      • zarathustra

        Amen. Perfect analogy. Oh, except that I mentioned nothing about prosecuting haslem

  • Petefranklin

    Getting back to the good stuff….Browns are 1.5 point home dog to the Dolphins.http://www.betonline.com/sportsbook#sel. You need to click on football then NFL.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      Man I sort of want to take them there.

      • Petefranklin

        I really dont know what to make of the schedule this year but noticed that there are four key games for this team to win if they want to change their losing ways, and they all come at home starting with the Miami game. Lions, Bears, and Steelers were the others IMO. It’s not inconceivable that if we get any decent play at QB, along with a legimate, make that good, starting CB2, that we go undefeated at home. I guess if Weeden is destined to the suckiness that is Cleveland QB’s, we start the season with another loss.

      • Petefranklin

        Browns were a 1 point dog at the LVH yesterday. I guess it’s addition by subtracting the anchor that was called coach. Remember LVH is the book that opened the season win total on the Browns at 4.5 games last year.

  • alexb

    ok back to AFC North football….I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the Shitspuke Steelers have to see James Harrison twice year when they play Cincy. The bad news is so do we. I was still kind of hoping we’d float a bargain deal at him that he’d take just to play Pgh twice a year. Kind of like we’d sit him the whole season and tell him how over the hill he is, than start him against pgh and watch the festivities. Would have been fun. We could have made it James Harrison day at the stadium that Sunday when the steelers came to town. Like literally wheel him out to the field in a dog kennel past the steelers warmup and whisper to him about all the bad stuff Roethlisberger said about his mama during the week. Am I the only one who thinks this would have been great fun?

    • MichaelTheRed

      honestly I think that’s why the Bengals picked him up. He’s not a 4-3 OLB so all they can do is use him as a 43 DE. I just checked to make sure and I see nothing about cincy switching to a 34. The Bengals feel they’ve got next in the AFC North, this was them giving the Steelers an FU. He’s not gonna be much except a serviceable sub at DE.

  • etc

    hey does anyone know a good spot to catch the draft next week?

    • Believelander

      Maybe the Map Room Cleveland, one ofthe happeningest establishment in the CLE. There are going to be celebrity guest appearances, or so go the rumors…

      • etc

        Well that sounds exciting. Thanks for the tip!

  • Sluggh McGee

    “cost-plussin’ ” is my new favorite verb.

    • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/ Cleveland Frowns

      You and I are the same in this way.

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