Browns owner Jimmy Haslam to stay in place amid fraud probe

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam pledged to continue running his family’s business — and NFL team — amid a federal investigation into fraud within his company.

Haslam said Friday he has no plans to step aside as president of Pilot Flying J despite federal authorities alleging he was aware of a widespread scheme to defraud customers of the truck stop chain. According to court documents, sales team members said Haslam was aware that employees withheld diesel price rebates and discounts from Pilot customers to boost the company’s profits and sales commissions.

After spending one day at the Browns’ headquarters in Berea, Ohio, Haslam returned to Tennessee to profess his innocence and make it clear he wasn’t stepping down during the probe.


The NFL draft this week will be the Browns’ first under Haslam, who bought the franchise last year from Randy Lerner for just over $1 billion. Lerner still maintains 30% of the team, but that will be transferred to Haslam in four years.

Earlier, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league had no plans to ask Haslam to step aside while the FBI investigates his involvement in the alleged scheme.

Haslam’s second meeting this week with reporters came one day after a 120-page affidavit was unsealed in Knoxville. The document says Haslam knew about a fraud scheme committed by top sales officials in the company that targeted some unsophisticated trucking companies.

Former Steelers linebacker James Harrison is headed down the Ohio River to continue his career, agreeing to a two-year deal with the AFC North-rival Cincinnati Bengals.

It won’t be long before he gets his first chance to show Pittsburgh what it’s missing.

The Bengals play their first home game next season on Monday night, Sept. 16 against the Steelers, the team they knocked out of playoff competition last year. Harrison, who turns 35 in May, got used to making deep runs in the playoffs with Pittsburgh.

The former defensive player of the year was a casualty of Pittsburgh’s move to get under the salary cap. The Steelers and Harrison’s agent Bill Parise negotiated but couldn’t reach a deal on a reworked contract. Harrison was entering the final two year of a $51 million extension signed in 2009.


Three share RBC Heritage lead

Kevin Streelman, Charley Hoffman and rookie Steve LeBrun were tied for the RBC Heritage lead, and Brandt Snedeker was on the verge of missing the cut Friday when second-round play was suspended for the day because of rain.

Conditions worsened throughout the day and 17 players were unable to finish at Harbour Town Golf Links at Hilton Head Island, S.C. They will resume play Saturday morning.

Streelman shot a 70 before the wind picked up to join Hoffman and LeBrun at 6 under. Hoffman also had a 70, and LeBrun shot 68.

Luke Donald and Bill Haas were a stroke back. Donald had a 68, and Haas shot 69.

Bart Bryant and David Frost topped the first-round leaderboard in the Champions Tour’s rain-delayed Greater Gwinnett Championship in Duluth, Ga..

The start of play was delayed four hours by rain. There were 57 players still on the TPC Sugarloaf course when the round was suspended because of darkness. Bryant completed a four-under 68, and Frost was four under with five holes left.

The first round will be completed Saturday morning, followed by the second round.

Six players were three under, including Duffy Waldorf and Neal Lancaster, who completed their rounds.

Suzann Pettersen shot a four-under 68 on at wind-swept Ko Olina to maintain a one-stroke lead after the third round of the LPGA Lotte Championship at Kapolei, Hawaii.

The 32-year-old Norwegian had a 14-under 202 total.

South Korea’s Hee Kyung Seo was second after a 66, matching the best round of the day, and defending champion Ai Miyazato was third at 11 under after a 70.

The Kings on Friday assigned forward Tyler Toffoli to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League. The Monarchs are on the bubble for a playoff berth in the AHL’s Eastern Conference, trailing the Connecticut Whale by two points before Friday’s games.

Toffoli, who will be 21 on Wednesday, had two goals and five points in eight games with the Kings. He also had a plus-3 defensive rating while averaging 11 minutes and 55 seconds’ ice time per game.

In another Kings-related development, the NHL has rescinded the match penalty assessed against Columbus’ Brandon Dubinsky on Thursday, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The penalty was assessed after Dubinsky punched Drew Doughty as Doughty covered up and didn’t fight back. However, league officials apparently saw that Doughty had thrown the first punch and rescinded the penalty against Dubinsky.

—Helene Elliott

Rafael Nadal edged Grigor Dimitrov, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, to win his 45th straight match at the Monte Carlo Masters at Monaco and reach the semifinals.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic had less trouble with Jarkko Nieminen, beating the Finnish veteran, 6-4, 6-3. Djokovic won despite a balky right ankle, which the Serb twisted two weeks ago a during Davis Cup match against the United States.

In the semifinal, he’ll face unseeded Fabio Fognini, who defeated Richard Gasquet, 7-6 (0), 6-2. Nadal will meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Stanislas Wawrinka, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.