A trucking company from Omaha that says it was short-changed more than $140,000 by Pilot Flying J has revealed Pilot sales reps traveled to Nebraska and altered the company's rebate agreement just days before an FBI raid on the fuel-company's headquarters for alleged rebate fraud.
The managers of W.N. Morehouse Truck Line in Omaha, Nebraska, told 10News they received an in-person visit from two members of Pilot's sales team on April 8. The truck line's normal sales rep from Pilot, Kevin Clark, was accompanied by vice president of sales John Freeman.
At the time, manager Curt Morehouse said his company received two types of discounts for each gallon of fuel the company purchased from Pilot Flying J. One portion of the discount was given electronically at the pump and the second portion was received as cash-back in the form of a monthly rebate check.
Morehouse said during the April 8 visit to the company's offices in Omaha, Freeman and Clark recommended a change to "tidy up" the rebate system so that both discounts were given electronically at the pump, thereby eliminating the manual rebate checks. Morehouse then stopped using the rebate check system on April 8.
Exactly one week later on April 15, the FBI raided Pilot Flying J headquarters in Knoxville. Affidavits with transcripts of secret recordings quote Freeman and Clark as knowing participants in the alleged rebate fraud scheme that focused heavily on customers who receive manual rebate checks. The affidavits quote Pilot sales reps as specifically mentioning how W.N. Morehouse Truck Line did not notice it was failing to receive the full agreed upon discount.
Morehouse said it is rare for the vice president of sales to accompany a normal sales rep.
"I'm not going to say it never happens, but usually it is when the vice president is new to the company and is making the rounds to be introduced to customers," said Morehouse.
10News made Pilot Flying J aware of Morehouse's account of the visit from Clark and Freeman. We asked if the trip to Nebraska and rebate adjustment was at all related to concerns over the potential for impending allegations of rebate fraud. Pilot spokesperson Tom Ingram said it was impossible to say if the trip was related to the current investigation or nothing more than a mere coincidence.
"I have no way of knowing if it was related or not. If I did, I wouldn't be able to talk about it because that would be part of an investigation," said Ingram.
Ingram reiterated that Pilot Flying J leadership has reached out to customers listed in the affidavits, including W.N. Morehouse. Ingram also emphasized the steps CEO Jimmy Haslam has taken to rectify and repair the current situation, including the elimination of the manual rebate check program in its entirety.
You can read more from 10News' trip to Omaha, Nebraska, for an in-depth interview with Curt Morehouse regarding the Pilot rebate program at the following link:
April 26: Omaha truck line discusses alleged Pilot rebate ripoff in-depth