Government Completes Proof In Pilot Case; Judge Again Denies Mistrial Motion Over Racial Tapes

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The government has completed its proof in the Pilot Travel Centers case, it was announced Wednesday on the 19th day of trial at Federal Court in Chattanooga.

The case against former Pilot officials Mark Hazelwood and Scott Wombold and inside sales personnel Karen Mann and Heather Jones did not include the testimony of two people mentioned prominently during testimony - John Freeman and Vincent Greco.

It was at Freeman's lake house at Rockwood, Tn., where Greco secretly taped Hazelwood and members of the sales team making racial remarks and disparaging comments about Pilot board members, the Cleveland Browns and the cities of Cleveland and Oakland.

The government has filed a motion asking that attorneys for Hazelwood not be allowed to question the top FBI agent on the case about Greco's actions in working for the government.

Defense attorneys again asked for a mistrial over the playing of the lake house tapes. Attorney Rusty Hardin called them "incredibly inflammatory."

Judge Collier said they were introduced only to rebut evidence that Hazelwood was an excellent company president. He said they took less than 15 minutes, and he said he gave limiting instructions to the jury that it was bound to follow.

The defense was to start its proof in the early afternoon.

The defendants face mail and wire fraud charges. Hazelwood, who was the Pilot president who made over $27 million in his last year at the Knoxville firm, is also charged with coercion of a witness. Wombold, who was over the national sales accounts, is also charged with lying to an FBI agent.

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