Ex-Pilot Flying J president heads to the slammer

    46
    102

    By Chuck Woodbury
    EDITOR

    Former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood is set to begin serving a 12 1/2 year sentence for cheating trucking customers out of millions of dollars at the diesel pump

    His lawyers asked earlier this week for the court to postpone his sentence to begin after Christmas, so he could spend the holiday with his family. They cited their client’s “devout” Christian faith and sense of “family values” as grounds for letting him open presents at home with his family.

    The court said, nope, you’ll be spending your Christmas in a jail cell.

    For years, Pilot Flying J has been a popular fueling and overnight stopping point for RVers. The truck stop chain is currently considering a paid overnight parking service for the RV community. Good Sam Club members already receive a fuel discount as part of their membership.

    Based on Mr. Hazelwood’s crimes (and the offensive audio recording below), I don’t see any evidence of his “devout Christian faith.” 

    If you’re like me, you will horrified to hear the following one-minute recording taped by an FBI informant at a Pilot Flying J sales meeting. The primary voice you hear is of Mark Hazelwood.

    WARNING: The language is vulgar and racist. Only listen if you can tolerate such language. 

     

    46
    Leave a Reply

    avatar
    26 Comment threads
    20 Thread replies
    0 Followers
     
    Most reacted comment
    Hottest comment thread
    36 Comment authors
    SchakeDavid FitzGeraldEric MeslinJayDon Baker Recent comment authors

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

      Subscribe  
    newest oldest most voted
    Notify of
    David FitzGerald
    Guest
    David FitzGerald

    It seems to me this is an unnecessary hit job on Pilot Flying J since the fraud was discovered over 5years ago. Berkshire Hathaway currently has approximately 40% ownership and plans on majority ownership by 2023. Full disclosure, I own Berkshire Hathaway stock.

    Aceman51
    Guest
    Aceman51

    Have not used my Good Sam’s RV Plus card much since they started charging 25-40 cents more a gallon for diesel fuel. It is a shame the FMCA doesn’t offer a discount card for us RV’s. Good Sam’s is no longer interested in RV’s except to charge us extra for their products. A little shopping around will find lower prices on most of their products. Just saying.

    John T
    Guest
    John T

    If I have a long trip on the interstate where I need to fill up with the trailer in tow, I go to a Flying J because I can expect it to have dedicated, RV-friendly pump lanes. Many Pilots pumps are impossible to navigate with a 25 ft trailer if there is much other traffic there.

    Don Baker
    Guest
    Don Baker

    Most any truck stop (Pilot included) have truck lanes where they can service any length vehicle trailer combination. With my 40′ coach and Jeep tow I never try to go to the auto area but get in line and fuel with the trucks. Just do not hang around after fueling.

    Eric Meslin
    Guest
    Eric Meslin

    I have a 30 foot travel trailer and need gasoline for the tow vehicle. Any Pilot or Flying J I’ve seen only has diesel around back in the truck lanes.

    Fred
    Guest
    Fred

    The story should be that his drunken racist rants were allowed into court by a liberal black Judge and may have contributed in him getting sentenced to over 12 years while others of the 14 charged got less then a quarter of that. This happened in 2013 when Flying J fuel was comparatively not that expensive and the break for RVers was the 2 or 3 cents off with one of the loyalty cards. Truck companys had a different discount billing system. Since late 2017, it is a Berkshire Hathaway company.

    JA
    Guest
    JA

    Chuck, Not your usual level of “Quality” Journalism. The headline has little to do with the real story of fraud and deceit. Only reading some of the posted links was I able figure out the real story…. We just finished a 4,500 mile trip along the I-40 and I-10 to Tennessee and back to AZ.. Pilot and Flying J’s Diesel Fuel was ALWAYS 39 to 47 per gallon higher than other nearby stations. I’m told that Good Sam (Lemonis) gets a nice check every month for those Good Sam members who use the Good Sam Discount at Flying J and… Read more »

    rvgrandma
    Guest
    rvgrandma

    I know many ‘devout’ Christians who swear, use vulgarity regularly, see nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage, etc. They choose and pick what part of the Bible they wish to live by. My daughter does that. I have friends on Facebook that regularly use profanity who are Christians. They all know I go by the scripture of: let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth. Since profanity including the use of the ‘f’ word is so acceptable now they see no problem. As is my right, I have hidden things they post with profanity. That is my feelings.… Read more »

    Eric Meslin
    Guest
    Eric Meslin

    Well said rvgrandma. Thank you.

    Perry Sullivan Jr.
    Guest
    Perry Sullivan Jr.

    I hate to burst a lot of bubbles… Pilot/Flying J are now owned by Berkshire/Hathaway.

    https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-pilot-flying-j-warren-buffetts-truck-stop-2017-10

    We’ve been using Pilot/Flying J in Arizona all the way to New Mexico and Texas, and we’ve never had an issue. Yes, the prior owner may have been a jerk and a few other names… but I still like them over Love’s (way over priced in my estimation).

    Bob p
    Guest
    Bob p

    Large trucking companies buy millions of gals.of diesel fuel every year, truck stops offer rebates to those companies in return for exclusive fueling of their trucks, Pilot/Flying J was cheating the trucking companies on the rebates for the fuel. It amounted to millions of $ they were cheating them.

    Thom Bell
    Guest
    Thom Bell

    We quit using Flying J/Pilot after we noticed that hey locked up $100-$200 on my credit card for a 20-25 gallon fill-up which totaled less than $75. They would hold the funds for up to 10 days, making interest for that time. I fought with Good Sam Club and they had no interest in helping. Flying J/Pilot scammed a lot of people and made a lot of money!

    John T
    Guest
    John T

    They put a lock on for the maximum amount the pump is set up to allow for a purchase, to ensure that the funds are available on your card. They do NOT get that money. The only money that changes hands is for the gas you actually buy.

    Eric Meslin
    Guest
    Eric Meslin

    I found out the hard way a few years ago the credit card authorization is $500 at the RV pumps, but only $75 at the auto pumps. My card was declined because the bank thought it was fraudulent. I called and straightened it out, but haven’t used an RV lane since.

    Bob PV
    Guest
    Bob PV

    Well, this is NOT a very good example of objective journalism, but more like shallow tabloid sensation reporting — big headlines and no worthwhile content! And what was the purpose of providing the audio segment showing that he is a racist jerk? That had NOTHING to do with his crime or sentence. The facts, that were not presented at all, are that he and over a dozen others in the management structure either pleaded guilty or were convicted of creating an elaborate scheme to commit fraud on a number of small trucking companies by withholding legitimate rebates from contracted prices… Read more »

    Journ A Lism
    Guest
    Journ A Lism

    Agree. If you can’t add value, write a teaser or small synopsis and provide the link to real reporting.

    Darrel Plummer
    Guest
    Darrel Plummer

    Bob, this is an editorial not reporting a news story. By definition it is an opinion. Personally, I have no problem with the way Chuck presented the editorial. Thanx.

    David FitzGerald
    Guest
    David FitzGerald

    Well said, totally agree.

    Henry Hoyt
    Guest
    Henry Hoyt

    Howdy All;

    As a former Over-the-Road truck driver I used to like the Flyi’ Fish hooks truck stops. That all changed when the family that began the company sold it to Pilot. Within a year the changes were noticeable. The restaurants were closed and either converted to “Fast food establishments or rented out to a chain type restaurant. That was back in 2010. Shame really the Fj (pre-Pilot), was top notch and a worthwhile place to stop.

    BirdsGo2
    Guest
    BirdsGo2

    From your article, I still have no idea what he did to cheat his customers. I also have no idea what value was added by the audio recording other than shock value. It degrades my opinion of RV Travel that you chose to attach it to an article that said nothing other than the guy’s going to jail.

    This feels more like a left-wing-hit-at-Christians article to me.

    Milton Chambers
    Guest
    Milton Chambers

    Agreed. And I’m not particularly devout, either. Journalism has truly vanished.

    Jay
    Guest
    Jay

    Nothing in the article makes it a “left wing hit at Christians” in my opinion. The sound clip simply shows that the guy in addition to being a jerk in business was also a racist. The fact that he claims he was a “christian” has nothing to do with you being one and says nothing about other christians.

    Brenda
    Guest
    Brenda

    My husband because of the ease of filling up our MH with towed will put up with the extra cents per gallon. Be it Flying J or Love’s truck stops. He figures the extra cents per gallon is more about the facility. They all have Dec if needed. They always have a store plus a restaurant and showers which we used once. All of this costs money vs a small gas station that happens to have diesel too.

    Mark
    Guest
    Mark

    I, too, have a discount card, and used Pilot/Flying J all the time. I did find, in general, their prices were lower than surrounding stations. That all stopped when Pilot/Flying J decided to remove all their American Flags so as not to offend some of the customers. As a retired Vet, that offended me, and I no longer choose to give them my American dollars!

    Mark
    Guest
    Mark

    That deal with the flags was bogus and quickly got out of hand. A family member is a manager at a Flying J. Some of the flagpole across the country were old and weak and might have toppled over in a windstorm so the company was replacing a lot of them. Look it up on Snopes.

    TP
    Guest
    TP

    Anytime someone has to “advertise” their “Christianity”, such as “we are a Christian business”, that is sure sign to steer clear.
    The only advertising a true Christian does, is in the way they act and treat others.

    Milton Chambers
    Guest
    Milton Chambers

    Hear, hear!

    JR
    Guest
    JR

    TP, indeed! He sounds like he was Christian during Sunday service only.

    Schake
    Guest
    Schake

    Touché, TP!

    I chose to spend my money with only those persons and businesses that are ethical, display equal-opportunity and non-discriminatory policies, and protect our planet’s environment (and thereby our children’s future) whenever I knowingly have a choice.

    I don’t care about their color or ancestry or religious beliefs. Good people (and bad) come in all flavors.

    Bob Godfrey
    Guest
    Bob Godfrey

    Over the years we have found that local truck stop facilities have better pricing and service than Pilot/Flying J so we try to avoid Pilot/FJ whenever possible. Since we require diesel and are 60′ long when we’re cruising the only advantage of using Pilot/FJ is that it is usually easy in/out.

    Pete
    Guest
    Pete

    When I find the word devout connected with Christian it is a red light to me who they really are. My life did a 180 degree turn years ago when I became a true believer. It didn’t make me perfect but I have since strived to walk as Christ walked and to obey his command to love one another. The “devout” Christian is one in name only who smears those who truly love the Lord and what he stands for. Christians the world over have been a blessing in all kinds of situations but these guys always get all the… Read more »

    Brenda W.
    Guest
    Brenda W.

    I’m am appalled by his racial comments more so than his cheating his customers on fuel. Hope 12 Christmases away from your family is worth it. Happy Holidays “Christian”.

    Joe Allen
    Guest
    Joe Allen

    We just came back from a trip and have always found the truck stops in general, were priced higher than everyone else around them. Plus, if you didn’t put booties on, you were tracking the spilled fuel and grime back into your rig. I thought the stealing was in plain sight with their pricing! And yes, his crude racial comments are sad indeed. Christian or not, we should always be respectful of others and treat everyone as we would like to be treated!

    Dr4Film ----- Richard
    Guest
    Dr4Film ----- Richard

    I recall reading an older news article about how the owner was not giving the appropriate rebates back to the trucking companies. it had nothing to do with cheating an RVer’s.

    Jeff
    Guest
    Jeff
    Jeff
    Guest
    Jeff

    About the only time I use Flying J or Pilot is when I really need fuel on the highway! Otherwise, the 8 cents I save for diesel is not worth the savings.

    Pgr
    Guest
    Pgr

    I’ve never seen any reason to stop at a Flying J myself (or any truck stop for that matter). They all have overly high prices, poor food and lots of congestion.

    Ad
    Guest
    Ad

    I have used PFJ for years and have found them constantly price in line with local stations. I just checked gasbuddy and the pfj apps and in Olympia WA regular is 25 to 30 cents cheaper than other stations around town and then I get an RV discount., diesel was about equal. I don’t know where the posters with PFJ is much higher are traveling but I have been satisfied with their prices and facilities.

    Jeannie
    Guest
    Jeannie

    Exactly how was he cheating his customers? Was it on the fuel prices or store merchandise? Story doesn’t provide enough information.

    Jeff
    Guest
    Jeff

    This is a case that concerns several major trucking companies. They were being charged higher prices for fuel, rather than the discounted rates for LARGE Volume Customers. As I remember, this guy wasn’t directly involved in this, but was convicted on the fact that he was the BIG BOSS, he was held responsible!

    And I believe this happened before FLYING J and Pilot Merged!

    Milton Chambers
    Guest
    Milton Chambers

    According to the article, it started before the merger, but he was directly involved and one of the co-conspirators.

    Andy
    Guest
    Andy

    Flying J in my experience nationally, has always had ‘high’ prices compared to other stations near them. Even with the Good Sam discount it was not competitive. I will only go there in a pinch