Pilot Sales Director: "I Cheated Customers, And I Did It Well"; Mosher Says President Knew Of Fraud

Monday, November 27, 2017

A former top Pilot Travel Centers salesman told a Chattanooga jury on Monday morning, "I cheated customers, and I did it well."

Brian Mosher said he began the practice of defrauding trucking companies out of promised discounts after getting the go-ahead from Mark Hazelwood, who was later the Pilot president.

Hazelwood is on trial along with national sales director Scott Wombold and inside sales accountants Heather Jones and Karen Mann.

Mosher said he first learned about the scheme to tell certain "less sophisticated" trucking companies they were getting one discount, then pay them a lesser amount, at the time one trucking company was buying another.

He said Western Express - a customer of Pilot sales director John Freeman - was acquiring a company he was servicing. He said Freeman told him he had been cheating Western Express and other customers and getting away with it. It brought in big profits to Pilot and big commissions to Freeman.

Mosher, who earlier pleaded guilty to mail and wire fraud and is awaiting sentencing, said he went to Hazelwood to ask him if that was okay. He said Hazelwood told him, "We should do it as much as we can."

He said Hazelwood said, "Absolutely, we don't have contracts with these customers."

Mosher told the jury, "He was saying we reserve the right to change their discounts however we feel like."

Mosher, of Bettendorf, Iowa, said, "I was told it was okay to do it, so I did."

He said each month he would instruct Ms. Jones on the "cheats" or "adjustments" to be made to promised discounts.

Mosher, who was at Pilot from 1998 to 2014, said the companies would be paid a far less amount than they had been promised, then he would decide a still further amount to trim the rebate check. He said he would choose a round number such as $5,000 for the further cut. Then Ms. Jones would change that to a number divisible by the gallons "so it would be more believable and not a huge red flag." The additional $5,000 cut might wind up as $5,180.62.

Mosher said, "If they weren't sophisticated enough to catch what we had done, I would continue to cheat them on a monthly basis."

Evidence was introduced that Pilot cheated JTL Carriers out of large sums of money over a period of years.

Mosher said he came directly under Wombold in the chain of command after Freeman got the eastern U.S. and Wombold the west. 

He said he emailed Wombold about a promised discount of cost minus 3 to AmeriFreight. Wombold replied, "Cost minus 3. . . how big is this account?"

Mosher said he responded with two words in large letters: "MANUAL REBATE." He said that was letting Wombold know that the company would not actually be getting the cost minus 3 but much less.

Wombold answered, "Approve. . . still pretty aggressive." Mosher said that referred to the possibility that AmeriFreight officials could tell other firms what a good deal they were getting from Pilot. Mosher said it was "a little bit dangerous."

He said he wrote back to Wombold, "Should I let them go to Love's?"

Wombold replied, "A--h---."

Mosher said, "Clearly we had pushed each other's buttons in this email."

He said it was understood "that I would manually cheat this customer on a monthly basis going forward."





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