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March 9, 2016 10:00 AM, EST
Federal Investigators Release Summary of Material Collected in Pilot Flying J Probe
John Sommers II for TT

Federal investigators have amassed voluminous electronic and paper documents and 200 hours of recorded conversations among confidential sources and a number of individuals during the course of their investigation of alleged rebate fraud at Pilot Travel Centers.

Government attorneys on March 8 disclosed the overview in a “non-exhaustive listing” of the material collected during the probe in a request for a protective order of certain materials related to the indictment of former Pilot President Mark Hazelwood and seven former sales executives that was unsealed Feb. 9.

The 58-page indictment details allegations against Hazelwood and the other executives in a conspiracy to defraud certain interstate trucking company customers of rebate discounts by various means.

Among the disclosures made public at a March 8 hearing in federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee:

• The FBI possesses more than 40 electronic containers and electronically stored information imaged and copied during the execution of search warrants in connection with the investigation. The quantity of data generated from the search warrant-gathered totals about 5 terabytes, according to court documents.

• The government has more than 55,000 pages of hard-copy documents seized during the execution of search warrants during the investigation. The documents are related to Pilot business operations.

• The government intends to produce copies of more than 200 hours of recorded conversations among confidential sources and numerous individuals that occurred during the course of the investigation.

Hazelwood and the former executives have pleaded not guilty.

Besides Hazelwood, the other seven charged in the indictment are Scott Wombold, a vice president; John Freeman, a director and vice president; Vicki Borden, a company director; John Spiewak, a regional sales manager; and Katy Bibee, Heather Jones and Karen Mann, regional account representatives.

Wombold also was charged with lying to federal investigators.

The ongoing investigation became public in April 2013, when federal investigators raided Pilot’s Knoxville headquarters.

Before Hazelwood’s Feb. 9 arraignment in Knoxville, 10 company executives already had entered into plea bargain agreements that require them to cooperate with investigators. They have yet to be sentenced.

Pilot already has reached a $92 million settlement with federal authorities and an $84.9 million settlement to a class of as many as 5,500 customers shorted of their fuel rebates.