Defense to focus on Haslam relationship with conspirator

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 10:50 AM
Updated: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 10:50 AM

Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's relationship with one of the chief conspirators in a scheme to defraud customers at the truck stop chain controlled by the Haslam family is becoming a focus for the defense in the fraud trial of the company's former president.

Fourteen former executives and sales representatives at Pilot Flying J have pleaded guilty in the case, including former vice president John "Stick Freeman," whom prosecutors describe as the architect of the scheme to rip off unsuspecting customers of the country's largest truck stop chain by shorting them on the rebates they had agreed to pay.

"I think the relationship between one of the conspirators and Jimmy Haslam will be highly relevant," the Knoxville News Sentinel quoted defense attorney Rusty Hardin as saying in court on Thursday.

Hardin represents former Pilot President Mark Hazelwood, who is on trial along with a former vice president and two sales representatives.

Haslam has denied any prior knowledge about the scheme to defraud unsophisticated trucking company customers and has not been charged in the case.

Pilot agreed to an $85 million to settle lawsuits by most of the defrauded customers as well as a $92 million penalty to the government.

"Mr. Freeman was particularly close to Jimmy Haslam, wasn't he?" Hardin said in his cross-examination of Arnie Ralenkotter, a former sales director who has pleaded guilty and testified on government's behalf.

"It appeared that way," Ralenkotter responded.

Ralenkotter agreed with Hardin's suggestion that "John Freeman made it clear he wanted to be that man below Mr. Haslam."

Ralenkotter had started working at Pilot in 1997 and testified that he was a sales supervisor when the fraud scheme began in earnest in 2008. That's when Pilot executives decided to emulate discount programs offered by competitors and realized that fuel prices fluctuated so often that it "created an opportunity for us to keep some of that spread."

"We kind of slid into it," he said.

The trial continues on Monday.


Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel,

Crash closes St. Paris Pike in German Township, Springfield

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 5:07 PM

Both drivers were transported to the hospital with non life threatening injuries after this head-on crash in the 3900 block of St. Paris Pike Monday afternoon.

A head-on crash in German Township has closed St. Paris Pike until further notice. The accident occurred around 4 p.m. and two people were transported to Springfield Memorial Hospital. 

Both victims sustained non-life threatening injuries according to the German Township Police Department.

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St. Paris Pike is shut down West of Upper Valley Pike and German Township Police advice motorists to find an alternate route. 


Accused I-75 wrong-way driver has previous intoxication, wrong-way cases

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 4:46 PM

WATCH: ODOT Camera captures wrong way driver crashing on I-75

A man accused of being under the influence and causing a wrong-way crash on Interstate 75 in Dayton on Saturday had an open court case for public intoxication and was cited in 2016 for driving the wrong-way on a one-way street, according to court records. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Drugs, alcohol suspected factors in I-75 wrong-way crash

Glenn Ellis, 47, of Dayton, was suspected to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he drove north in the southbound lanes on I-75 on Saturday morning, according to the record. 

Ellis crashed head-on into a car driven by Anthony Revels, 59, of Dayton, near the Ohio 4 exit, according to a police report. Revels and his passenger were injured, but were treated and released from Miami Valley Hospital, the report said. 

On Monday, Ellis was charged with OVI, failure to control a motor vehicle, failure to wear a seat belt, and driving on the wrong-side of a divided roadway, according to online court records. 

RELATED: Defying odds: 3 men survive Dayton wrong-way interstate crash

Court records obtained by this news outlet indicate Ellis was cited for public intoxication on in the 400 block East Second Street in Dayton on Oct. 7, 2017.

“[Ellis] was subject of person down call,” according to the Dayton police citation. “He was highly intoxicated, [and] passed out in the rain.” 

The case is still listed as open, according to court records. 

Ellis was also cited for driving without a driver’s license and driving the wrong-way on a one-way street on Monument Avenue at North St. Clair Street in Dayton on Feb. 5, 2016. 

That citation states that Ellis was traveling on Monument Avenue and turned onto North St. Clair Street and didn’t realize North St. Clair was a one-way street. 

Court records indicate the charges were dismissed and Ellis was ordered to pay court costs. 

“There’s a car coming the wrong way!”

On Monday, Anthony Revels of Dayton was at a tow lot retrieving personal belongings and removing the tags from his totaled Prius.

Revels, 59, said he got on the I-75 going south at Wagner Ford Road.

“All of a sudden I looked up and saw a car passing other cars, literally coming at me,” he said

He told his passenger, Michael Jackson: “There’s a car coming in the wrong way! Wrong way!” 

Revels started taking his car right. The other car was still swerving in his direction, he said.

“We’re going to get hit,” he shouted to Jackson right before impact.

 As the cars came to a stop, Revels and Jackson checked on each other’s injuries. 

Neither was seriously hurt. Both were wearing their seat belts and all six of the car’s airbags deployed, Revels said.

At the hospital, Revels spoke with a police officer. 

“He seemed really shocked at the outcome of our accident – a head-on collision and we only had minor injuries,” Revels said.

Anthony Revels inspects the damage to his Toyota Prius on Monday after he and a passenger survived a head-on collision with a wrong-way driver on Interstate 75 early Saturday morning. SUBMITTED(SUBMITTED/SUBMITTED)

Revels said his chest has been sore since the accident in which he also banged up his right hand. He said his passenger also suffered minor injuries to an arm, leg and ribs.

“I went right. I just turned right,” he said. “That’s all you can do.”

Revels said God protected them during the crash.

“After going through this and looking at the car, I believe it,” he said.

ODOT video captures crash

An Ohio Department of Transportation camera, positioned at the I- 75 and Ohio 4 interchange, captured the crash. 

The camera, which was zoomed out, captures the moment a northbound vehicle slams into a southbound vehicle on the highway. 

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MARTA bus blocks feed of Georgia Dome implosion at worst possible time

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 1:25 PM
Updated: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 2:51 PM

Footage of the Georgia Dome implosion was heavily marred for at least one person when a MARTA bus rolled into view and hit the brakes. 

Hundreds of people looked on in person as the Georgia Dome fell Monday. 

Many of those onlookers recorded the big moment for those who couldn’t be there, and for posterity. 

READ: The Georgia Dome had a farewell AMA on Twitter. Here’s what we learned

READ: Mercedes-Benz Stadium says it is world’s greenest sports venue

But footage was heavily marred for one very unhappy cameraman when a MARTA bus rolled into view and hit the brakes. 

Video courtesy of The Weather Company/

The cringe-worthy video was also posted on Twitter Monday morning, with James Crugnale lamenting that he’d been streaming the Dome for 40 minutes before the bus stopped in front of the camera as it imploded. 

Take a look:

And what does MARTA have to say about all this? 

“Given the potential dangers of bringing down the largest structure of its kind... If this is the biggest story, we’re really glad about that,” Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Goldie Taylor told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Over on Twitter, Taylor “sincerely apologized” on MARTA’s behalf for ruining the live shot.

Then, she trolled. 

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Watch the implosion of the historic Georgia Dome in Atlanta.


Street closures planned for Friday holiday festival in Dayton

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 4:54 PM

Crowds gathered for the Grande Illumination of the Christmas tree Friday night, Nov. 25, 2016, during the 2016 Dayton Holiday Festival on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.
Jim Noelker / Staff
Crowds gathered for the Grande Illumination of the Christmas tree Friday night, Nov. 25, 2016, during the 2016 Dayton Holiday Festival on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton.(Jim Noelker / Staff)

Some streets in downtown Dayton will be closed Friday to accommodate the 2017 Dayton Holiday Festival.

Depending on which street, the closures will begin at different times, but all will be closed until 10 p.m., the city announced today.

RELATED >>> Christmas officially arrives starting this weekend


9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Third Street between Main and Ludlow streets

3 to 10 p.m.

Second Street between Perry and Vista View Drive

5:30 to 10 p.m.

Wilkinson Street between Second and Third streets; Ludlow Street between First and Second streets

7 to 10 p.m.

Main Street between First and Fifth streets; Second and Third streets between Jefferson and Perry streets; Fourth Street between Jefferson and Ludlow streets; Wilkinson Street between Monument Avenue and Fourth streets; southbound Red Cross Lane between First and Second streets; and southbound Stafford Street between First and Second streets.

MORE >>> 10 must-see holiday light displays close to home

During the closures, access to the arts garage will be maintained from Ludlow Street.

For more information, call the Downtown Dayton Partnership at (937) 224-1518, or visit