Cleveland Browns ownership has been notorious in recent years stemming from the days that Art Modell owned the team. Now, it looks like current owner Jimmy Haslam is parachuting with a parachute.
Haslam is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pilot Flying J. Last in April it was revealed that the F.B.I. and the I.R.S. were investigating the company. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, via Pro Football Talk, the affidavit for a search warrant alleges the company committed conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud.
According to the reports, the crimes first came to light when a Pilot Flying J employee, named CHS-1 in the affidavit, approached the F.B.I. about what was going on about May 4th, 2011.
“That certain Pilot employees had been intentionally defrauding some of Pilot’s Customers by deliberately charging these Customers a higher price than the contractually agreed upon price, and then concealing the fact and nature of this increased price from these victimized customers.”
The affidavit then went on to reveal that in addition to the testimony by the informant.
Next the informant agreed to record conversations with the person, dubbed CHS-2, whom she learned the information from. The recordings between the two revealed another source of information in a former Pilot J Regional Sales Manager in Cathy Giesick who agreed to cooperate and confirmed the informant’s story.
Things get worst for Pilot J as the F.B.I. also got CHS-2 to be an informant. This proved crucial, because the second informant had access to important meetings. One of which was held on October 25th, 2012 during a meeting of Regional Directors at the lake house Pilot Flying J Vice President of Sales John Freeman.
“Hey this is a game. We’re playin’ f–kin’ poker with funny money, and it’s liar’s poker with funny money because of all this cost-plus stuff,” Freeman said. “So, you know, I’m not, I don’t want to get into a moral or ethical conversation, because I believe that if a guy’s gonna butt-f–k you then we got to go to butt-f–kin’ him harder. . . . Some people are tits and some people ass guys and some people want their discount managed through the system and some people like a big check. I mean, f–k, sell it to ‘em the way they want to buy. And understand, the f–ker’s got the ability to know what the hell you’re doing to ‘em. Okay?”
Eventually the recorded conversations got Freeman to admit that Haslam indeed did know about the conversations. If you think Haslam is parachuting without a parachute right now you’re right, but oh there is more!
According to the, two Pilot Flying J sales executives pled guilty today to federal conspiracy to commit mail fraud charges. Arnold Ralenkotter who is a regional sales director in Hebron, Ky. and Ashley Judd (no relation to the actress), who is an account executive in Knoxville, entered their pleas in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Tenn. As of right now, no dates have been set for their sentencing.
What this means is that that the pair struck a deal to have the other charges of mail fraud and wire fraud dropped. The deal could also include a lighter sentence. In exchange they have to cooperate with officials and testify against Pilot Flying J.
So, not only did Haslam go parachuting without his main parachute, he also forgot his backup as well. In other words he will be going to out of a job, be stripped of the Browns and will be going to jail.
Oh by the way Mr. Haslam, after you parachute your way into jail remember to not drop the soap.