Jury Finds Defendants In Pilot Travel Center's Case Guilty On Only 5 Of 17 Counts; Hazelwood Convicted On 3 Charges

Thursday, February 15, 2018
Former Pilot Travel Centers president Mark Hazelwood, center, leaves Federal Court early Thursday afternoon. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and witness tampering.
Former Pilot Travel Centers president Mark Hazelwood, center, leaves Federal Court early Thursday afternoon. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of wire fraud and witness tampering.

The jury in the Pilot Travel Center's case on Thursday afternoon found former employees guilty of only five of 17 counts. 

The panel in the Federal Court in Chattanooga ruled former Pilot President Mark Hazelwood guilty of three counts.

Former national sales director Scott Wombold was found guilty only of one mail fraud count. 

Sales accountant Heather Jones, 47, of Knoxville, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud. 

Karen Mann, another sales accountant, was cleared of her charges. 

Hazelwood, who made over $27 million his last year at Pilot, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and witness tampering. 

Prosecutor Trey Hamilton is asking that Hazelwood by held in custody until sentencing on June 27. He said Hazelwood owns his own plane and has significant assets. 

Judge Curtis Collier said that decision will be made by a magistrate in Knoxville on Friday. Hazelwood, 59, of Knoxville, remains free until then. 

Wombold, 58, of Gallatin, was found not guilty on several charges of lying to an FBI agent. He had told one witness in the case if he was guilty of anything, it was burying his head in the sand. 

The government said Hazelwood, Wombold, and Ms. Jones each face a sentence of up to 20 years in prison for their convictions.

The jury deliberated 28 hours over five days. The last eight hours involved one count against one defendant. 

The trial, which began in early November, focused on Pilot sales representatives defrauding trucking companies out of promised rebates. It was computed that the trucking firms were cheated out of over $56 million they should have received. 

Fourteen other former Pilot employees pleaded guilty. 

Judge Collier will be setting the sentences on all of the defendants.

A Pilot company spokesman issued the following statement: 

"Our focus has been on the customers. Nearly five years ago upon learning of the improper transactions, we made whole every customer negatively affected, entered into a Criminal Enforcement Agreement with the government, cooperated fully with the government’s investigation, and made policy, procedure and staff changes to make certain nothing like this ever happens again.

“At Pilot Flying J, we remain committed to being a great partner to trucking companies across North America and serving our customers, team members and business partners.”

Scott Wombold
Scott Wombold

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