Pilot Flying J hires attorney to oversee internal investigation

5:54 PM, May 1, 2013   |    comments
  • Attorney Reid Weingarten
  • Brad Martin
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CLEVELAND -- Pilot Flying J is hiring a famed attorney to help lead an internal investigation of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's company.

Federal investigators allege a fraud scheme involving trucking company fuel rebates.

In a press release, the board of directors announced the appointment of Reid Weingarten to serve as a "special independent counsel." He will "lead, oversee, and validate" the company's own efforts to determine if Pilot Flying J sales managers underpaid rebates on diesel fuel purchases owed to some of its trucking company customers.

Weingarten isn't known for his polish, just his delivery. He's thought of as a no nonsense guy that rolls his sleeves up, and does the hard work himself.

Weingarten is a partner at Steptoe & Johnson, with background in the Department of Justice Public Integrity Section.

That's where he and US Attorney General Eric Holder became best friends. Even Holder trusted Weingarten to represent him and defend his career record after he was nominated for the job by President Barack Obama in 2008.

Holder and Weingarten founded a nonprofit called the See Forever Foundation, which supports a charter school in the Washington D.C. area.

Many of Weingarten's clients are memorable, disgraced officials like former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers, former Enron Accounting Officer Richard Causey, former General Counsel of Tyco Mark Belnick. He's also represented Roman Polanski, and Jesse Jackson Jr.

The Newark, New Jersey native is considered one of the country's best defense lawyers. 

A call to Weingarten for comment Wednesday was not returned.

Pilot Flying J's board also named Brad Martin, retired chairman and CEO of Saks, Inc., as the head of a special committee of the board that will work with Weingarten.

According to Martin, "We're pleased to have someone with Mr. Weingarten's background, credentials, and reputation take on this assignment. He is the perfect person to help us understand the facts and do the right thing during this difficult period."

These appointments make good on a promise made by Pilot Flying J C.E.O. Jimmy Haslam on April 22, where he said, "Our board will find the best person in America to come into this situation and oversee and make certain that any and all of our own investigations into these matters are thorough and correct and help us ensure that what happened to this company never happens again."



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