After days of jury deliberation, three of the four former Pilot Flying J sales employees indicted for their roles in a fuel-rebate scam that defrauded trucking companies of millions of dollars have been found guilty, according to a report in the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Former Pilot Flying J executive vice president Mark Hazelwood and sales representative Heather Jones were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. Former Pilot Flying J president Scott Wombold was found guilty of a single count of wire fraud. Hazelwood was also found guilty of witness tampering, and another count of fraud.
Only former sales representative Karen Mann was found not guilty of all charges by the jury. Sentencing is scheduled for June 27.
The jury was expected to hand out convictions on Feb. 14, but was deadlocked on one of the charges. It took until late in the day on Feb. 15 for the jury to finally the verdicts to come in.
The trial began in November of last year. Jurors sat through 19 days of testimony in the Chattanooga, Tenn., courtroom. The four on trial were just the latest Pilot Flying J employees to be charged in connection with the fuel-rebate scam. Fourteen other employees have pled guilty for their various roles.
The fraud case dates back to 20212 when the FBI discovered that Pilot Flying J sales employees were operating a fuel-rebate scam that victimized trucking companies. The trucking companies were promised certain amounts back in rebates, but sales staff would reduce the amount at a later date to increase profits. The FBI found that over the course of several years, Pilot Flying J defrauded as many as 5,500 customers of more than $56 million in owed rebates that were not paid.
Pilot Flying J reached settlement agreements with the authorities and customers in 2014, for $179 million in total.