Pilot ex-president Mark Hazelwood caught on tape making racist insults, wants Judge to recuse himself from fraud trial
“I deserve to have a judge who has not already judged me, clearly believing I am a ‘typical’ white-collar defendant and a racist one at that,” Hazelwood wrote. “I deserve a judge who will protect my rights.”
Hazelwood convicted in February 2018 of conspiring with a sales team at the company to cheat trucking companies out of millions of dollars. Hazelwood was also convicted of trying to intimidate his secretary so she wouldn’t testify. Prosecutors claim Hazelwood was involved in a five-year plot to short trucking firms of promised diesel fuel discounts. Fourteen former Pilot employees in the sales division have pleaded guilty in the fraud case and implicated Hazelwood in testimony as being a part of the deals.
In a split decision, a federal appeals court vacated the decision in 2020 after finding that the jury shouldn’t have been allowed to hear the recording of Hazelwood making racist comments during a work retreat of Pilot executives. However, the court didn’t recommend that Collier be replaced for the second trial. The court discovered that Collier was mistaken in allowing the jury to hear the recording, but not biased.
In the audio Hazelwood can be heard saying that “n-ggers” bought a lot of Raiders apparel. He also asked, “Where’s that greasy n-ggers song?” later in the night, before an offensive song had been played aloud. Hazelwood later expressed surprise over the fact that one of his coworkers had been “married to a n-gger” because “you can’t trust those little n-gger b-tches.”
In court filings, Hazelwood’s attorney claimed that Collier isn’t just biased against the executive in particular, however, that the judge is prejudiced against white-collar defendants.
“A reasonable person could conclude from (Collier’s past) statements that (Collier) assigns more moral blame to white-collar defendants than, for example, drug dealers,” the motion said. Pilot is the 10th largest private company in the U.S. according to Forbes, with an annual revenue of $29.5 billion. Hazelwood’s retrial is expected to begin on Feb. 1, 2022.
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