UPDATE: Judge OKs $84.9 million payout in Pilot Flying J truck scandal

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A federal judge in Arkansas has approved $84.9 million in payments to settle claims that a truck stop chain cheated trucking companies out of promised rebates.

The payments include interest on money due to about 6,000 companies that purchased fuel from Pilot Flying J since 2005. An additional $14 million goes to the lawyers.

The truck stop chain is owned by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and his brother, Jimmy, who owns the Cleveland Browns football team. Lawyers for the company say upper management didn't know about a scheme to cheat customers and that any wrongdoing was confined to a limited number of people. Seven have pleaded guilty to criminal charges and two others are cooperating with investigators.

Pilot Flying J has annual revenues of about $30 billion.

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Representatives of the nation's largest diesel fuel retailer are to be in court in Little Rock for a settlement hearing in a $70 million lawsuit by customers who the company acknowledges were cheated out of rebates.

Pilot Flying J, owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, reached an agreement with nearly 6,000 customers who are to be paid with 6 percent interest, if the pact gets final approval.

Several dozen companies opted out of the court action and are suing Pilot Flying J on their own.

Prosecutors have obtained guilty pleas from seven people alleged to have taken part in the scheme, and two others were given immunity in exchange for their cooperation.


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