When Jimmy Haslam purchased the Cleveland Browns eight months ago, the hope was the franchise would finally have the attention of the owner after years of dealing with Randy Lerner's hands-off approach. This week, however, it became evident that Haslam has more to worry about than the Browns' draft.
After having his family truck stop business raided by the FBI, Haslam on Tuesday denied wrongdoing in a federal investigation aimed at Pilot Flying J.
"First of all I apologize, because the last thing we ever want to do is put any kind of blemish on the city of Cleveland -- which we've grown to love -- or the Browns," Haslam said at a televised news conference Tuesday. "So I personally feel bad about that, even though I don't think we've done anything wrong."
Haslam said it appears that the investigation is centered on a "very insignificant number" of truck company customers who say they were never paid for rebates. "We, of course, disagree with that," said Haslam, who is the chief executive officer of the company.
This isn't the first time that Haslam's company has faced legal trouble. In 2005, Pilot Corp. agreed to pay $720,000 in back wages and damages to 110 assistant managers who were due overtime pay, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Three years later, the company settled price-gouging allegations in three states by paying fines in the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Haslam, who bought the Browns in August, said he planned to travel to Cleveland this week and next as the team prepares for the NFL draft.