Former Pilot exec set to be released from house arrest
Former Pilot executive Mark Hazelwood is set to be released from house arrest after being accused in a wire and mail fraud conspiracy investigation.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Former Pilot executive Mark Hazelwood is set to be off of house arrest after being accused in a wire and mail fraud conspiracy investigation.
He’s among three Pilot executives who will receive new trials after a federal appellate court denied a petition for a rehearing.
Convictions for Mark Hazelwood, Scott Wombold and Heather Jones were overturned in October after a judge ruled evidence shown in the trial to be inadmissible.
According to court documents, the release of recordings of Hazelwood using “deeply offensive racist and misogynistic language,” was in violation of the Rules of Evidence making them inadmissible in court because of the risk of unfair prejudice.
According to officials, a granted motion from Jan. 11 reinstates Hazelwood’s original condition of release from 2016. He has spent more than 1,000 days on house arrest and is set to be released soon.
Hazelwood’s new restrictions granted by the U.S. District Court do not include a curfew, home detention or home incarceration.
In 2013, the FBI raided Pilot’s headquarters. The government charged more than a dozen employees in Pilot’s direct-sales division with conspiracy to defraud Pilot’s trucking-company customers by “falsely promising discounted fuel prices, and then secretly shorting those customers on the promised discounts through deceptive invoicing and rebate techniques.”
According to the indictment, between Feb. 2008 and April 2013 Hazelwood and Wombold encouraged Pilot’s direct sales team to use the “manual rebate” technique and Heather Jones created fraudulent backup data to prevent the trucking companies from catching on to the scheme.
Wombold, Jones and Hazelwood were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and several individual counts of wire fraud. Wombold was also charged with lying to investigators. Senior U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier sentenced Hazelwood to 12 and a half years in prison along with a $750,000 fine. The convictions of all three were reversed on Oct. 14, according to court documents.
After the company was raided, Pilot Flying J paid an $85 million settlement to customers who had been scammed in a rebate fraud scheme. Pilot also paid a $92 million penalty to the government.
During his initial time under house arrest, Hazelwood spoke with WVLT News anchor Ted Hall about the allegations against him. He said, “It’s devastating. I spent my whole life in the trucking industry. My whole life.”
A new trial date for Hazelwood, Wombold and Jones has not yet been set.
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