On Wednesday, a jury sent a note to the judge signaling that there is at least a partial decision for charges facing the former president of Pilot Flying J and three others accused of conspiring to rip off some trucking customers of promised fuel rebates.
The jury sent a note saying they had reached a unanimous decision on all but one count that's facing one of the four former employees. The judge told the jury they should continue to deliberate until they can come to a decision on the remaining count, so a partial verdict won't be issued at the moment.
Defense attorneys are opposing the release of a partial verdict in the trial.
The process to reach a decision has taken a considerable amount of time. The judge noted the deliberations have been ongoing for two and a half days, but said the jury hasn't been working too long to force a partial verdict at this moment -- meaning they could continue deliberating on the remaining count into Friday.
Jurors are confirming the federal case against Mark Hazelwood, Scott Wombold, Heather Jones and Karen Mann indeed requires some time.
On Tuesday afternoon, they finished their second full day of deliberations this week. They also worked part of the day Feb. 7.
Today marks a week since they first took up the case, a period that was interrupted by a four-day weekend.
U.S. District Judge Curtis L. Collier typically has not held court on Fridays. Court officials said Tuesday so far as they know the jury will continue to work all this week as needed to reach a verdict.
Government prosecutors allege Hazelwood, the former president who made millions every year, Wombold, a former Pilot vice president, and Mann and Jones, who were sales representatives at Pilot headquarters in Knoxville, were among a group of former Pilot employees who used the promise of diesel rebates to lure and then cheat some trucking customers.
Clients were told they'd get one rebate rate but ended up getting a smaller return, according to the government. The alleged scam typically targeted victims considered unlikely to figure out what was happening, the government alleges.
The plot ran from at least 2008 through April 2013, when IRS and FBI agents raided Pilot headquarters and began hauling away scores of evidence.
The jury typically starts deliberations at 9 a.m. and finishes for the day by 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. On Monday, they asked for clarification on the definition of the word voluntarily as it relates to the alleged participation of the defendants in the conspiracy to cheat customers.
Pilot Flying J has paid a $92 million penalty for the scam. The company also has paid more than $80 million to resolve lawsuits filed by clients.
Fourteen former Pilot employees have admitted they took part in the scheme. They're awaiting sentencing by Collier.
The case is being tried in Chattanooga because of extensive pre-trial publicity in the Knoxville area.