NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam to discuss the FBI's investigation into Flying Pilot J, a chain of truck stops owned by Haslam and his family, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports.
The FBI alleges that Flying Pilot J engaged in fraudulent business practices in a gas rebate scheme in order to boost the company's bottom line and increase the commissions of the companies sales representatives. Haslam, who served as CEO of Flying Pilot J and returned to that post in February, was allegedly aware of the practice, which ran for five-to-seven years, according to court documents.
Haslam took over ownership of the Browns last October. Goodell was asked why the ongoing FBI investigation was not discovered while vetting Haslam before he took ownership of one of the league's 32 franchises.
"It’s an investigation and it was held very tightly by the FBI and the authorities," Goodell said. "They (the FBI) didn’t share this information with us and they shouldn’t. That’s something that is their prerogative."
Haslam has denied the allegations and plans to be at the Browns' headquarters in Berea, Ohio for the draft, which begins on Thursday night.
"Well, of course, when you have that type of thing, but I’ve spoken with Jimmy several times and met with him," Goodell said of Haslam on Wednesday. "Jimmy is doing everything he’s asked. He’s cooperating. He wants to make sure that he is doing all of the right things in that regard and he has assured us that he is going to."
According to Cabot, the NFL has not asked Haslam to remove himself from day-to-day operations during the legal process. If the legal process goes badly for Haslam, however, the league could certainly step in force him to cede control of the team as it did with former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr. over his involvement in a corruption case involving former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards that was related to a river boat casino license in 2000.