Browns Owner Jimmy Haslam May Be Asked to Step Down in Wake of FBI Probe

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2013

The FBI probe that has rocked Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam doesn't appear to be going away any time soon, and it could potentially cost him his stake in the franchise.

According to Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com, Haslam is being investigated for alleged fraud in relation to his company, Pilot Flying J. In a 120-page affidavit, Haslam was accused to withholding millions of dollars in rebates that are reportedly owed to trucking companies.

Grossi is also reporting that the NFL could potentially ask Haslam to remove himself from control while the investigation is ongoing.

While things obviously look grim for Haslam, there are options that could essentially keep him in power even if he isn't ultimately making the decisions. According to Grossi, a source suggests that Haslam could simply put a family member in charge until the investigation sorts itself out.

It's possible that Haslam would be banned from the team facility in that case, but he would still technically be the owner. If he is ultimately charged and convicted with a crime, there is no telling what might happen to his stake in the Browns, according to Grossi.

Haslam just bought the Browns last year, and there was plenty of excitement within the fanbase as he seems to be committed to winning. This situation puts him and the franchise in a very difficult position, however.

No matter how this investigation plays out, it will be tough for Haslam and the Browns to proceed with business as usual. If the owner is forced to step down, it will put a struggling franchise in even more turmoil.

 

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