Witness Says Wombold Told Her He Was Only Guilty Of "Sticking His Head In The Sand" In Pilot Travel Center Fraud

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A witness in the Pilot Travel Centers fraud trial testified Thursday that former national sales director Scott Wombold told her that "if he was guilty of anything, it was sticking his head in the sand."

Lexie Holden told a jury at Federal Court in Chattanooga that the conversation took place after the FBI raided Pilot headquarters in Knoxville on April 15, 2013.

Wombold is on trial along with Mark Hazelwood, Heather Jones and Karen Mann.

Ms. Holden, who earlier pleaded guilty in the case as did many other Pilot employees, said she joined Pilot in 2008 just after graduating from UT Knoxville. She said she started as an administrative assistant and rose through the ranks to national account manager.

She said she was made aware of the ongoing cheating of trucking companies on promised discounts soon after joining the company.

The witness was asked about an email she sent in 2011 regarding a new employee, Kevin Hite, who had formerly worked for a trucking firm. She was inquiring if Hite should be told about the scheme, noting that he might still have some loyalty to his former industry.

She said a sales manager changed discounts on Hite's accounts to keep him from knowing what was going on.

She said she finally had a talk with Hite just before he was set to go on a plane trip with Hazelwood and John Freeman, another top Pilot sales leader at the time. She said she was afraid he would be asked about it on the trip and not know what was being said. 

Ms. Holden said Hite told her he did know what was going on, but he just did not know the amounts customers were being cheated.

The witness said she helped Brian Mosher prepare for a lecture he gave at Pilot headquarters in November 2012 on how to cheat trucking companies.

Attorney Rusty Hardin was about to ask Ms. Holden more on that topic when the prosecution objected, saying it had not been a topic on direct examination.

Attorney Hardin then said he would have to call Ms. Holden as a defense witness later. He made the same statement when some of his questions to an FBI agent who is now stationed in Colorado were objected to.

The Houston attorney commented, "I guess we can try this thing in May."

The trial started in early November. Judge Curtis Collier said recently it may go into March at least.

The judge on Thursday dismissed a juror who has gotten a promotion to a position in Knoxville. Another juror dropped off earlier when she did not show up for court and it was learned she had gone on a pre-paid trip. 

An FBI agent said it was his job to interview president Hazelwood on the day of the raid. He said Hazelwood was at the airport getting ready to board a plane, but he returned.

He said he willingly was interviewed by him for an hour or more.

The witness said he was "courteous and professional."

The agent said there were "way more" than 20 members of law enforcement poring through records at the Pilot headquarters and interviewing key personnel. He said many were armed and some had bullet-proof vests. 

Asked about the mood, he said, "I would think it would be very different than a normal day at the office."

In a reference to the Pilot owners, he said, "I think everybody in Knoxville knows who the Haslams are."

Dan Peyton, a former Pilot salesman, said he learned that Smith Transportation had been cheated. He said he called Hazelwood about it.

He said Hazelwood told him the company would be repaid.

 



Catoosa County Arrest Report For Feb. 16-22

Click  here  for the Catoosa County arrest report for Feb. 16-22. (click for more)

Dalton Police Department Investigating Shoplifting At Walmart

The Dalton Police Department is asking for the public’s help identifying two men who worked together to shoplift a Bose sound bar speaker and a hoodie sweatshirt from the Shugart Road Walmart. The suspects were recorded by store surveillance. The incident happened on Sunday. Two white males entered the store together an loitered for several minutes by an ATM before walking into ... (click for more)

Reflections On Billy Graham

Sandra and I are saddened this morning after learning of the death of Billy Graham. We rejoice today, because Mr. Graham once said "It will be reported that Billy Graham has died, but that won't be the truth. He said the truth is that he had only moved to a new location".  I remember when we named 15th Street as Billy Graham Avenue, his daughter Gigi came for the dedication ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Every day, without exception, I find a number of “treats” in my daily dose of email. These funnies, and other pertinent information, are sent to me by a myriad of “Internet Buddies” who I repay by sending out some of the funniest that I collect. Think of it as sort of a “co-op” for my readers to enjoy. When The Saturday Funnies began last summer, it was what I still think is ... (click for more)

Bearettes Wallop Warren, 87-22, In Region 3-3A For 61st Win In 62 Games

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Bradley Central is the state’s No. 2-ranked girls’ team, according to MaxPreps. The Bearettes (29-0) is the District 5-3A tournament champion. Visiting Warren County has a sub-.500 record and is the No. 4 team out of District 6-3A. So, on Friday night at Jim Smiddy Arena, the Bearettes played the favorite’s role perfectly and humbled the Lady Pioneers, ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Teams Avoid Upset Bids By Sequoyah

Both Sequoyah basketball teams came to Signal Mountain Friday night for Region 3-AA quarterfinal games as fourth-place finishers in District 5-AA and both with losing records. Apparently, they weren’t ready to turn in their equipment just yet as they played like there was no tomorrow against the host teams. Both teams from Madisonville ended up on the short end of the final ... (click for more)