When well-known attorney Rusty Hardin on Tuesday asked a former Pilot regional account specialist if she believed that former president Mark Hazelwood knew of a plan to cheat trucking firms he didn't get the answer he expected.
Holly Radford told a jury in Chattanooga, "I know he had knowledge of the rebate schemes that were going on.
"I had conversations with him about it on his boat, at his house and when I was doing personal photography for his family."
Attorney Hardin, who is traveling back and forth from Houston to try the case, noted that there was no record that Ms. Radford had ever told the government of allegations against Hazelwood, who is one of four people on trial. Also facing mail and wire fraud charges are former Pilot national sales director Scott Wombold and regional account specialists Karen Mann and Heather Jones.
Attorney Hardin later pressed Ms. Radford on specifics of what Hazelwood told her. She said once as they passed in the hallway at company headquarters in Knoxville he "expressed his appreciation for how much Jay had reduced his rebates."
She said that referred to regional sales director Jay Stinnett giving trucking firms rebates that were well below what had been promised to them.
One document introduced in the case had a line showing the amount of "savings" to Pilot through the fraudulent practice.
Ms. Radford could not remember any other specific statements by Hazelwood about the fraud.
Attorney Hardin said, "In all the reports they've disclosed there's nothing in them about what you've said today."
Ms. Radford, who pleaded guilty not long after an FBI raid on the Pilot headquarters on April 15, 2013, said cheating trucking owners "was kind of our culture. Everybody knew about it - inside and outside sales, upper management."
She was asked if "upper management' meant that CEO Jimmy Haslam knew. She said, "I do not have direct knowledge that he knew." The Cleveland Browns owner has not been charged.
An email was discussed with Ms. Radford in which former Pilot vice president of sales John "Stick" Freeman wrote that he had not yet informed a new salesman of the rebate racket "because he hasn't drank the Kool Aid yet."
Freeman, discussing the chart that showed Pilot "savings," said he was "hesitant to ask the girls to do this. You never know what might come of these." The incriminating 2008 record was still on hand when the FBI came calling five years later.
Ms. Radford said her commission was capped at $7,000 so she may have made just around $20 to $25 per month on the rebate scheme.
She said of the fraud, "I always knew it was wrong. But it was something you became used to and something your superiors praised you for. So I just did it."
Tim Wroblewski, who heads Pilot training and development, said during the years of the fraud from 2008-2013 that all employees were required each year to sign the code of ethics and business conduct.
Signatures were shown for each of the defendants.
The code at the time encouraged employees with concerns to step forward and said they would not be penalized.
Mr. Wroblewski said of the issues of ethics and good business conduct at Pilot "in the current day, we talk about it all the time."