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VOL. 42 | NO. 5 | Friday, February 2, 2018
Defense closing arguments presented in Pilot rebate case
CHATTANOOGA (AP) — A defense lawyer representing the former president of Pilot Flying J truck stop chain has made his closing arguments in a case in which four former employees of the chain are accused of conspiring to defraud customers in a rebate scam.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports attorney Rusty Hardin told jurors Tuesday that the case is a civil matter and shouldn't be in criminal court. Hardin's client, Mark Hazelwood, has been on trial with the three others since November in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga. Hardin also said former sales executive Brian Mosher, who previously made a plea deal and testified for prosecutors, falsely accused Hazelwood.
Pilot Flying J is controlled by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. The Haslams haven't been charged with any wrongdoing. The governor has not been involved in the company in recent years.
Federal prosecutor Trey Hamilton presented his closing argument Monday, and former sales staffer Heather Jones' attorney, Ben Vernia, argued her case Monday. Hamilton is to give a rebuttal argument Wednesday.
On Tuesday, attorney David Rivera said former Pilot Flying J Vice President Scott "Scooter" Wombold was an honest supervisor. Rivera said Wombold didn't realize Mosher wasn't telling his customers that he was reducing their fuel discounts.
Former sales staffer Karen Mann's lawyer, Jonathan Cooper, told jurors that Mann didn't know her boss and his salesmen were lying to trucking companies about the cuts she made at former executive Arnie Ralenkotter's command. Cooper said Mann never lied to anyone.
"She wanted to be part of a team," Cooper said. "She was not trying to cheat anyone."
Ralenkotter, a former sales director, pleaded guilty and testified on the government's behalf.
Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com