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Jan 11, 2013; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski (center) walks off the stage after his introductory press conference with owner Jimmy Haslam III (right) and chief executive officer Joe Banner at the team

Cleveland Browns owner to pay $92 million penalty

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his partners at Pilot Flying J truck stops will pay $92 million over the next two years in order to avoid prosecution from the federal government, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

High-ranking executives at Pilot Flying J were accused of scamming customers with fuel rebate fraud, which prompted a massive federal investigation that hasn’t ended. While the company has promised to pay a settlement, individuals can and will still be prosecuted. As the Plain Dealer article notes, “Ten employees, including top sales officials, have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with investigators in the on-going criminal probe.”

“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 said in a statement released this afternoon.

US Attorney Bill Killian released a statement, “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.”

One attorney in the piece describe the deal as such, “A criminal enforcement agreement is a type of deferred prosecution in which the two sides agree to specific facts, and to the understanding that the government would win the case if it decided to prosecute.”

So in exchange for avoiding prosecution, the company pays the tidy price of $92 million and promises never to do it again. Browns fans can breathe a sigh of relief as this could have been a lot worse for Haslam, who maintains he had no knowledge of fraud while it happened. Now Haslam and the Browns can turn their attention to a highly anticipated 2014 NFL season.

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Tags: Cleveland Browns

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