- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Gov. Haslam: Truck stop agreement good for company

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says the truck stop company he co-owns can start putting the fraud investigation behind it after it struck a deal with prosecutors to pay a $92 million fine and acknowledge that employees cheated customers.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee announced the company has agreed to pay the fine in an agreement signed Friday.

Haslam is not involved in Pilot Flying J’s day-to-day operations of the company that is co-owned by his brother, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

Ten employees of the truck-stop company have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme to cheat customers out of promised fuel rebates and discounts. The agreement does not protect anyone at Pilot from prosecution and requires the company to cooperate with an ongoing investigation.


Chronology of Pilot Flying J truck stop probe

A timeline of events in the federal investigation into alleged rebate fraud at the Pilot Flying J truck-stop chain owned by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his brother, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam:

- May 4, 2011: An informant contacts the FBI about a regional sales manager’s statement that Pilot is cheating customers out of contractually set rebates.

- Aug. 2, 2012: Jimmy Haslam buys the Cleveland Browns for $1 billion.

-Sept. 11, 2012: Jimmy Haslam steps down as CEO of Pilot Flying J to concentrate on rebuilding the NFL franchise. He remains board chairman.

- Oct, 4, 2012: A Pilot regional sales manager agrees to cooperate with FBI investigators and record conversations with colleagues.


Road projects could face cuts in August

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee has funding for 13 road-widening projects totaling more than $200 million waiting on whether Congress refreshes the federal Highway Trust Fund in August.

Without Congressional reauthorization, federal transportation officials will start cutting money sent to state agencies on Aug. 1, which would set off cutbacks in states’ road projects.

Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer told WBIR-TV in Knoxville (https://on.wbir.com/1ks2UW8https://on.wbir.com/1ks2UW8 ) the agency has a list of projects it planned to launch in fiscal year 2014, but has pushed back to 2015 because of concerns about funding.

The 13 projects facing delay are spread across Tennessee.

The Highway Trust Fund relies on gasoline taxes. While road construction costs have surged, the gasoline tax rate of 18.3 cents per gallon hasn’t changed since its last increase in 1993.



Tennessee county may re-apply for pipeline permit

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An eastern Tennessee county is considering asking the state again for permits that would allow US Nitrogen to build miles-long pipelines to and from the Nolichucky River.

The Greene County Industrial Development Board wants the state to grant right of way permits for the pipeline, arguing that multiple companies could use the structures once they are in place.

The Greeneville Sun reported (https://bit.ly/1mR2EEqhttps://bit.ly/1mR2EEq ) that state regulators rejected a previous request for the permits because they concluded that only US Nitrogen would benefit from the project. One of the criteria for the state right of way for private use is that applicants must show the project in question will benefit the greater public.

Only public entities can apply to use public right of way. If the IDB is granted the permit, the board would lease the pipeline to US Nitrogen for its uses.

The board will meet Friday to discuss whether to file new applications.

US Nitrogen is proposing to discharge water into the river from its cooling cycle. The Tennessee Department of Conservation says this won’t hurt the environment downstream.

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