To ‘get’ Pilot, feds prosecute use of phone, mail from perch over sea

The eagle, an imperial and warlike bird, swoops down upon his prey with powerful claws. (Photo

The entity overseeing the United States may not have seven heads and 10 horns like those bristling upon the creature described by the Apostle John in the 13th chapter of the book of Revelation.

Still, the U.S. rises its creaturely self from the sea, as does the one in John’s vision. From upon the water does the U.S. derive its authority and its claim of jurisdiction. It has what the law books call maritime or admiralty jurisdiction. In contrast stands the law of the land, or common law. Biblical law and common law have much in common.

Another way of viewing federal jurisdiction is to see it as the work of the national fowl, the eagle. The U.S., with international and interstate jurisdiction only, swoops into a state using a statutory claw, a thin prehensile foot that snaps upon victims such as ARNOLD RALENKOTTER, whom it plucks up and thrusts down into the casuistry, bullying and lazy lawyering of the plea bargain.

Scripture’s vision of the beast rising from the ocean is a reference to Rome and its empire-operating antichrist successors. In the case of the U.S., power exerted is international, maritime, an interstate authority given to it under contract when the states created it. The articles of confederation and the U.S. constitution are the states’ grant of power to the national government so it can serve as their agent outside their borders.

Turning a business tort into a crime

The raid against the Haslam family’s trucking and highway service company, Pilot Flying J, appears to be a politically motivated attack against a Tennessee business dynasty that is Republican leaning and Christian in background. ‡  The criminal inquiry against Pilot by the FBI fits a pattern of hostility and provocation against conservatives, libertarians and Republican people by the Obama administration. Using strong-arm tactics familiar to Chicago politics, Mr. Obama’s police and his executive branch apparatus — from the IRS to OSHA and the EPA — have bullied perceived enemies ranging from prolifers, conservative donors such as the owner of badly mauled Gibson Guitars in Nashville, tea party groups in Chattanooga and elsewhere, adoptive parents and news reporters.

The U.S. is prosecuting Pilot on grounds of an alleged fraud. Overly aggressive sales people and dishonest dealings shortchanged customers who buy gasoline and other services in bulk, and receive rebates if their sales reach agreed-on benchmarks. The FBI probe has sparked civil lawsuits from companies such as Atlantic Coast Carriers Inc., of Hazelhurst, Ga.

“Pilot executives … conspired to manually reduce the amount of rebate payments due to Atlantic Coast, and numerous other customers, in order to increase Pilot profits and increase sales commissions of its sales agents, without the consent or knowledge of affected customers.” The lawsuit mirrors facts from the papers filed in the criminal probe.

Uncle is exposing the company to a double whammy — his criminal prosecution, and civil claims citing wrongs. These accusations in U.S. District Court include breach of contract, conversion, promissory fraud, fraudulent concealment, “unconscionable, false, and deceptive acts or trade practices” and such like, according to copies of lawsuits available at

Grant for a moment that the civil plaintiffs have been injured by deceptive practices at Pilot. They have remedy under contract. They possibly have remedy under Tennessee law. Instead, the leading national economy actor in America, the U.S. government, attacks the company with a conspiracy case in which two people have pleaded guilty.

One of them is ARNOLD RALENKOTTER, a man probably born as Arnold Ralenkotter. He worked 10 years in Pilot’s sales division, and as regional sales director oversaw the staff that handled the disputed rebates.

But it’s not fraud being prosecuted, but use of mails.

Maritime or interstate jurisdiction is not to be had in Tennessee unless the feds show that some fragment, corner, edge or envelope flap of the conspiracy crossed a state line. The moment any part of the alleged conspiracy passes beyond the borders of the free state of Tennessee, the activity and actors fall into interstate and international jurisdiction — that which Uncle exercises from the shoreline outward, seemingly across the entire globe, and along the borders of the states.

The feds do not have police powers in the 50 states, though they often exercise police powers as if they did. Prosecution in the Pilot case pretends to focus on crime. But the prosecution is based upon the MEANS the defendants used to further their crime, not the crime itself.

Prosecution focuses on the mails, and on telephones

Just look at a “waiver of indictment” that MR. RALENKOTTER’S lawyer Edward Yarbrough convinced him to sign. The legal language makes you think the feds are upset at a conspiracy, but they’re really not.

A section of the document called “The Conspiracy and its Object” suggests what I’m getting at. Wait for my highlights:

“6. From 2008, through approximately 2013, within the Eastern District of Tennessee, and elsewhere, the defendant, ARNOLD RALENKOTTER, did knowingly and willfully conspire, combine, confederate and agree with other persons ****,

a. to commit mail fraud, an offense against the United States, that is for the purpose of obtaining money from Pilot customers, by means of materially false pretenses, *** the defendant, ARNOLD RALENKOTTER, caused and approved the sending of fraudulently reduced rebated checks **** .

b. to commit wire fraud, an offense against the United States, that is, with the intent to defraud, *** ARNOLD RALENKOTTER [ ] caused to be transmitted by means of wire in interstate commerce, writings, signs, and signals, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.

Notice my italics. The offense is the “sending of” fraud-touched checks and the causing “to be transmitted by means of wire” those wicked instruments. The fraud is the occasion and the spark for the prosecution. The case is a use the mail and the wire.

The conspiracy’s purpose, Uncle’s agents declare, “was to send fraudulently reduced rebate checks” so that Pilot could violate its contracts and get away with it undetected. In talking about the “manner and means of the conspiracy,” the surrender document signed by the flesh-and-blood natural person Mr. Ralenkotter on behalf of that evil twin, ARNOLD RALENKOTTER, puts it this way. A colleague “would send a monthly spreadsheet by way of interstate wire transmission, namely an e-mail, to the defendant, ARNOLD RALENKOTTER *** .”

Another hit for local economy

Our interest in this case arises from our care for the free state of Tennessee and for local economy. A business tort is turned into a crime. By its thin claw — using the mails and using phones — the U.S. grasps actors who should, at most, face civil accusation or state indictment. The federal system that has drawn MR. RALENKOTTER as cooperating witness is unreasoning and harsh. Federal penalties are merciless, and federal prisons full.

Land jurisdiction in this case (local economy) has been overwashed. The power of contracts to reinforce their private laws upon parties is overshadowed by a federal prosecution coming from the sea, righteously batting down a corporate misdeed but merely targeting a means of communication.

‡ Gov. Bill Haslam, an elder in the Presbyterian church, is a man of principle and in at least two instances that I have explored took a controversial but biblical “divided government is best” perspective (the Vanderbilt veto, a refusal to expand Medicare).

Sources: Lance Coleman, “Georgia company asks for class action lawsuit against Pilot Flying J,” Knoxville News Sentinel,, April 20, 2013

U.S. Code Title 18, section 1343. Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5122)), or affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

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