Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's Pilot Flying J company has agreed to pay a penalty of $92 million over the next two years and to fully cooperate with the ongoing federal investigation of fraud against its customers.
The deal reached Monday with federal prosecutors will avoid criminal charges against the company.
"We, as a company, look forward to putting this whole unfortunate episode behind us, continuing our efforts to rectify the damage done, regaining our customers' trust, and getting on with our business," Haslam, Pilot Flying J's CEO and chairman, said in a statement. "We've been committed from the beginning of this to doing the right thing, and that remains our commitment."
Haslam bought the Browns for just over $1 billion in 2012.
The government's investigation of alleged diesel fuel rebate fraud at Pilot became public last year. Since then, the company has reached an $85 million settlement in federal court with trucking customers who claimed in civil lawsuits that they had been shorted on diesel fuel rebates.
In a news release, U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said:
"The terms of this agreement, including the significant monetary penalty and the very serious consequences if Pilot fails to comply, demonstrate quite clearly that no corporation, no matter how big, influential, or wealthy, is above the law. In addition, the company's agreement to fully cooperate with the United States, including its obligation to identify its employees' criminal conduct, will assist the ongoing federal investigation.
"The agreement ensures that Pilot's extensive remediation efforts will continue until all trucking company victims have received full restitution and until Pilot has demonstrated to the United States that it has implemented sufficient internal controls to prevent this kind of fraudulent conduct from ever occurring again."