After over a year since its headquarters were first raided by FBI and IRS agents in connection with a rebate fraud investigation, the Pilot Flying J corporation reached an agreement with feds that may turn out to be the most vital of the entire ordeal.
Per the terms of the agreement, Pilot Flying J is expected to fully repay every victim of the fraud, a cost of more than $56 million, as well as a $92 million penalty to the government.
In addition, the company has to continue to comply with the ongoing federal investigation of potentially culpable employees who could still face charges, although the agreement did not point to any specific names.
"The past 15 months, since the federal government served a search warrant on the company's headquarters, have been very trying for all involved," said Aubrey Harwell, Pilot Flying J's attorney. "The company has cooperated fully with the government and will continue to do so. As to its customers, the company has gone to extraordinary lengths to understand and identify any wrongdoing and make it right."
Although Jimmy Haslam III, CEO of PFJ and owner of the Cleveland Browns, isn't explicitly cleared by these terms, the prevailing thought is that this agreement would not have otherwise been reached if he remains a target in the investigation.
There's no way Pilot Flying J agrees to pay $92 million and to fully cooperate with the prosecution if Jimmy Haslam remains a target.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 14, 2014
If that is indeed the case, then this is fantastic news for the Browns organization and its stability, a franchise that has been anything but for the last 15 years.