Lawyer claims Jimmy Haslam admitted bribery allegations during recent testimony – NBC Sports

The fight between a few billionaires continues. And it’s getting uglier and uglier.

According to the Associated Press, a lawyer representing the interests of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway claimed in court Thursday that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam admitted under oath this week that he offered bribes to Pilot executives in exchange for participating in a promotion have increased the value of Pilot Corporation.

In a deposition Tuesday, Haslam declined to offer “side pay” to David Clothier, the controller of Pilot Travel Center, attorney Ryan Stottmann said in court, according to the AP. Stottman then claimed that Haslam testified that he had an “informal agreement” with two dozen Pilot employees to “reinstate their lucrative executive bonus plan” if/when the Haslams sell their remaining shares in the company.

The fight boils down to figuring out the value of the 20 percent of the company that Berkshire will buy from the Haslams. The higher Pilot’s value, the more the Haslams get.

According to the AP, Stottman called the admission “stunning” and pointed to Pilot’s insistence that the bribery allegation was fabricated.

“Your own client has now confirmed under oath that these were not inventions, but that the shadow manager compensation plan actually exists,” said Stottmann.

Although the bribery aspect will not be part of an upcoming trial over the fair value of Pilot’s remaining 20 percent, the presiding judge has chosen to examine ongoing efforts by Berkshire lawyers to prove that they were bribes (or something similar). acted, not offered to hire. This will apparently result in Haslam’s deposition being reconvened so that he can once again be confronted with certain questions that his lawyers were previously told not to answer.

“Just because this is not present in the case does not mean that this information is not relevant in other respects,” the judge said, according to the AP. “I think it’s relevant to impeachment and bias. . . . I heard no basis today for instructing the witness not to answer the question, which I think is notable for a deposition in Delaware.”

This is an “uh-oh” comment from the judge as it relates to Pilot/Haslam’s position. It is an indication that things may not be going well. And it underscores the fact that federal prosecutors are investigating the bribery allegations, as Pilot’s lawyers acknowledged in an earlier hearing.

It could be a potato-potato situation. There was no blatant bribery, but perhaps there was something more subtle and nuanced that worked similarly.

Regardless, the fight continues. And if Haslam’s bribery allegation sticks, it remains to be seen whether the NFL will do anything about it. As explained in Playmakers (get the hardcover now for just $16.89), there is a double standard when it comes to the league’s willingness to punish players and its reluctance to take action against owners to take.

UPDATE 12:40 p.m. ET: “Pilot continues to deny the false allegations in Berkshire’s counterclaims,” ​​a Pilot Corporation spokesperson said in a statement to PFT. “The assertion by Berkshire’s counsel at Thursday’s court hearing that Mr. Haslam admitted Berkshire’s unsubstantiated allegations in his testimony is a gross mischaracterization of Mr. Haslam’s testimony.”