Dec 9, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns linebacker Craig Robertson (53) celebrates with the fans after a 30-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
The FBI and IRS are investigating Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam’s travel center company, Pilot Flying J, and are alleging the company engaged in a fraud scheme for many years to keep money owed to customers as gas rebates.
Documents filed by the FBI in court Thursday claim Haslam was aware of the fraud scheme, “committed by top sales officials” at his family business. They also allege Haslam was present for discussions about the fraudulent activities.
The affidavit issued by the FBI and IRS says they are investigating charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The question is now being asked if Haslam could lose ownership of Browns, and ESPN’s Tony Grassi reports the NFL could slowly begin phasing Haslam out of the NFL:
"The source believes the league may ask Haslam to step aside of his own volition and remove himself from operational control of the Browns while the investigation continues. It’s possible that requirement could result in Haslam staying away from the team facility.If Haslam declined, the source said, the league could suspend Haslam until the investigation is completed."
"“They can force him, probably, to transfer his interests to another entity within the family, where he may still have equity holdings but absolutely no involvement in operations,” the source said. “They can remove him from having front-and-center involvement.”"