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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Although nearly two months have passed since Pilot Flying J first came under fire for alleged fraud in its fuel rebate program, the legal hits keep coming with three new lawsuits filed in the past week.
A Nebraska trucker filed a class-action suit in Nashville, Tenn., alleging Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J secretly reduced promised rebates since 2005. The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, charges that Pilot Flying J reduced the rebates for Paul Otto of Wisner, Neb., and other truckers in a scheme by the company's top sales executives, according to a report by The Tennessean.
In addition, Ohio Auto Delivery Inc. filed a class-action lawsuit against the truck stop company in U.S. District Court in Toledo, Ohio. The 19-page complaint, filed late last week, charges that Pilot Flying J defrauded the firm since at least 2005.
Alabama trucking company, Shoreline Transportation of Greenville, Ala., also filed suit over fraud allegations. Its suit was originally filed in Butler County Circuit Court in Alabama, but then transferred to U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Ala., according to the newspaper.
Several other lawsuits have been filed against Pilot Flying J since the April 15 raid on its company headquarters by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service. The raid grew out of a two-year investigation into its fuel rebate program that was detailed in a 120-page FBI affidavit, as CSNews Online has reported.
On May 29, two company executives entered guilty pleas in connection with the criminal probe. Regional Sales Director Arnold Ralenkotter pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, while Regional Accounts Representative Ashley Smith Judd pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Legal experts expect more criminal charges to be filed against company executives.
CEO Jimmy Haslam has denied any knowledge of wrongdoing and said the company is cooperating with federal officials.
Pilot Flying J is a family-owned business that operates more than 650 retail locations and is the largest operator of travel centers and travel plazas in North America.