This afternoon, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam responded to FBI allegations that his company, Pilot Flying J, deliberately underpaid trucking customers in fuel rebates, in an alleged attempt to increase profits. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports Haslam denied wrongdoing in a press conference in Tennessee.
Haslam said learning of the FBI and IRS investigation “rocked us back.” But he maintained that his company was “run the right way,” and that Pilot Flying J would conduct its own investigation.
Although he said he would take no questions and read from a prepared statement, he departed from the text of that statement at times, at one point to emphasize that he wouldn’t step down as CEO of Pilot Flying J.
HASLAM: “Somebody asked me today if I was going to step down as president, and I thought to myself, ‘Well, why would I do that?' candidly. I haven’t done anything wrong, number one. And number two, if there’s ever a time the company needs our leadership, it’s right now.”
Haslam said the investigation was focused on a very small portion of the company’s business. And he reiterated that he and Pilot Flying J would cooperate with investigators.
A spokesman for the NFL has told the Plain Dealer that the league has no plans to ask Haslam to step down as the owner of the Browns.