The WSB Care-a-Thon Total: $665,889




Partly Cloudy T-storms
H 87° L 72°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy T-storms. H 87° L 72°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    Partly Cloudy T-storms. H 87° L 72°
  • cloudy-day
    Partly Cloudy. H 86° L 67°

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00


Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00


Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Jury finds Jim Donnan not guilty on all counts

Jury finds Jim Donnan not guilty on all counts

Jury finds Jim Donnan not guilty on all counts
Photo Credit: Richard Hamm
Former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan, left, heads into the Federal Courthouse on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, Athens, Ga. Prosecutors say the 69-year-old and another man ran a fraudulent investment scheme from September 2007 to December 2010 through GLC Limited, a West Virginia-based company dealing in wholesale and closeout merchandise. Prosecutors say the pair promised high rates of return but paid investors with other investor money. (AP Photo/Athens Banner-Herald, Richard Hamm)

Jury finds Jim Donnan not guilty on all counts

ATHENS — In a federal courtroom one mile from Sanford Stadium, former Georgia football coach Jim Donnan scored the biggest victory of his life Friday.

A jury of seven women and five men found Donnan not guilty on all 41 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, money laundering and conspiracy that the government had brought against him in connection with an alleged investment scheme.

In the moments after the verdict was announced by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal, Donnan hugged his attorneys, wife and other family members and seemed to fight back tears.

He knew a different verdict could have led to a lengthy prison sentence.

In an interview at his Athens home later Friday, Donnan named a number of high-pressure, high-stakes games from his coaching career and said they could not compare with the stress he felt Friday.

“Hey listen, I’ve played in front of 80,000 people at Lincoln, Nebraska, played in the Orange Bowl for the national championship, played for the national championship at Marshall, played against Florida every year (while at UGA),” he said. “Nothing even comes close to approximating that minute when the judge announced the verdict.

“The apprehension and anxiety was overwhelming.”

Prosecutors had argued that Donnan and another man, Greg Crabtree, ran a scheme from 2007-10, promising investors high rates of return from a West Virginia company, GLC Limited, that purportedly sold closeout merchandise. But GLC sold relatively little and instead repaid early investors with money from later investors in what amounted to a Ponzi scheme, prosecutors told the jury.

Donnan’s attorneys, Ed Tolley and Jerry Froelich, countered that Donnan was duped by Crabtree and thought GLC was a legitimate business and a great investment opportunity that he wanted to share with family and friends.

Jurors found insufficient evidence to support the prosecution’s position that Donnan knew the business was fraudulent, jury foreman Artis Ricks said in an interview after the verdict was announced.

“I kept thinking day after day the government was going to pull out a smoking gun, and I just never really saw one,” Ricks said. “I think Mr. Donnan was as big a victim in this as some of the investors who lost their money.”

Ricks, who lives in Hartwell, said the evidence showed Donnan solicited help to try to investigate GLC’s problems when the company began missing payments to investors in 2010.

“That just doesn’t sound like something a guilty person would do,” Ricks said.

The jury foreman also noted Donnan brought in his son and son-in-law as GLC investors.

“I just didn’t think he would do something to cheat his family and put them in harm’s way,” Ricks said.

Prosecutors, who did not comment after the verdict, called dozens of witnesses during the trial, which began May 6. The defense called just three witnesses, but used cross-examination of prosecution witnesses to make points. Jurors deliberated for about 12 hours over parts of three days after getting the case Wednesday afternoon.

Shortly after returning from lunch Friday, the jurors informed the judge they had reached a verdict on all counts.

The judge looked over the verdict form, confirmed every juror had signed it and then, rather than having it read aloud count by count, simply announced “not guilty” had been checked 41 times. With that, the jury was dismissed, and the criminal case against Donnan was over.

“The verdict moved me,” said Tolley, Donnan’s lawyer and longtime friend. “I’m so grateful to the jury that they paid attention.”

Said Donnan: “I had an inner calm from the standpoint that I knew my innocence. But at the same time, there was a lot of what-ifs involved. Particularly at my age (69), you’re looking down the barrel of trying to speculate (about possible outcomes).”

Donnan revealed that prosecutors offered him a plea deal before the trial, but said it would have required jail time.

“I felt like there’s no way I could look at my children or my grandchildren or my wife, knowing my innocence, and take something like that,” Donnan said.

Crabtree, originally indicted along with Donnan, avoided trial by pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in the sale of a security. He faces up to five years in prison when sentenced June 24 in Athens.

GLC, which stood for Global Liquidation Center, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2011, as did Donnan.

Prosecutors said during Donnan’s trial that GLC investors, mostly recruited by the former coach, lost $22.9 million. They included high-profile football and basketball coaches, two of Donnan’s former Georgia players and a number of wealthy businessmen. Several of the money-losing investors, called as prosecution witnesses, said on cross-examination that they remain friends with Donnan.

“I felt like when I did find out what was going on, all I’ve ever tried to do is work to rectify a terrible situation for everybody,” Donnan said. “I feel like all of us who made money have tried to pay it back.”

Said Tolley: “There’s a fine line between people making a mistake and a crime. This was maybe not wise, poorly managed, you name it, but it never was a crime, and that’s the thing I think the jury latched on to.”

Donnan said his future plans include attending a granddaughter’s high school graduation in Oklahoma next week, attending other grandchildren’s baseball and soccer games and perhaps finding some work as a sports commentator.

“I feel like I’m in the fourth quarter,” Donnan said, “but I’ve got some time left.”

Read More


  • Students may be happier about the lunch options this year. Nutritionists across the country attended the school nutrition association conference Thursday in downtown Atlanta. School Nutrition Association Vice President Gay Anderson says they've been listening to what students want. [Special Section: Back 2 School] Now they're trying to add more options, like salad bars and international flavors, to school lunch menus. 'Culturally, we've learned to taste new things instead of the regular old meat and potatoes,' Anderson said. The school nutritionists also say students want meat without antibiotics and other clean food.
  • Starbucks announced Thursday that all 379 Teavana stores -- which are primarily based in malls nationwide -- will be closed because they have been “underperforming,” CNN reported. The move will impact 3,300 workers. >> Read more trending news  'The company concluded that despite efforts to reverse the trend through creative merchandising and new store designs, the underperformance was likely to continue,' Starbucks said in a press release. Most locations will be shut down by next spring, CNN reported.
  • In an apparent retaliation for sanctions, Russian officials have told the United States to cut its diplomatic staff to 455 by Sept. 1 and barred use of some properties, the BBC reported Friday. >> Read more trending news Russia's action, outlined in a statement from the Foreign Ministry, came a day after the Senate voted for new sanctions against Russia, putting President Donald Trump in a tough position by forcing him to take a hard line on Moscow or veto the legislation and anger the Republican Party, Reuters reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it would retaliate again if the United States decided to expel any Russian diplomats, Reuters reported.
  • The Latest on Republican-pushed legislation to repeal Obama's health care law (all times local): 5:40 a.m. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has taken comfort in the defeat in the Senate of a Republican-pushed measure aimed at scaling back, or partially repealing, former President Back Obama's Affordable Care Act. In a statement following defeat of the measure on a 49-51 vote, the California Democrat says, 'The American people have spoken loud and clear against the higher costs and monstrous cruelty of Trumpcare.' She adds, 'Now, Congress must finally pivot to the long overdue bipartisan work to update and improve the Affordable Care Act and to continue to lower Americans' health costs.' Her counterpart in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, said after the votes that Democrats who resisted the GOP legislation 'are not celebrating.' But he also said that he's 'relieved' the measure didn't pass. ___ 3:39 a.m. Dealing a serious blow to President Donald Trump's agenda, the Senate early Friday rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law after a night of high suspense in the U.S. Capitol. Unable to pass even a so-called 'skinny repeal,' it was unclear if Senate Republicans could advance any health bill despite seven years of promises to repeal 'Obamacare.' 'This is clearly a disappointing moment,' said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. 'I regret that our efforts were not enough, this time.' 'It's time to move on,' he said. The vote was 49-51 with three Republicans joining all Democrats in voting 'no.' McConnell put the health bill on hold and announced that the Senate would move onto other legislation next week. Trump responded on Twitter: '3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
  • Students in five school districts are waking up for their first day of school. Friday is the first day for Newton County, Lamar County, Commerce, Rome and Jefferson. [Special Section: Back 2 School] The state superintendent told us some districts have a fall break some don't so each district decides its own calendar. Hear from him about why some schools are starting so early, on Channel 2 Action News This Morning. Many parents we talked to said it's too early to go back. 'I get to see all my friends and meet my new teacher,' student Kimora Belcher said. Belcher said she is excited to start school and is not bothered its weeks before other Georgia kids will head back to the classroom. 'It's too soon and too hot,' mother Phyllis Wright said. Wright said she doesn't understand the July 28 start date for Newton County Schools. She is aware some Georgia schools don't go back until mid-August. 'The parents should say something about it to school board members,' Wright said. The state superintendent said it is up to each individual district.
  • Trumpeting his administration's crackdown on illegal immigration and violent crime, President Donald Trump is traveling to Long Island to urge Congress to dedicate more funding to the fight. Trump is set to speak Friday afternoon at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, New York, close to where the ultra-violent street gang MS-13 has committed a string of gruesome murders, including the massacre of four young men in April in a Central Islip park. Trump is expected to continue his tough talk on immigration and urge Congress to dedicate more funding to border enforcement and faster deportations in a speech in front of law enforcement officers and the family members of crime victims. Trump has made cracking down on MS-13, also called Mara Salvatrucha, a top priority of his administration. The gang, which is believed to have originated in immigrant communities in Los Angeles in the 1980s and then entrenched itself in Central America when its leaders were deported, is infamous for its violent tactics, including torturing victims and hacking them with machetes. Its recruits are middle- and high-school students, predominantly in immigrant communities, who are said to risk violent retribution if they leave. Authorities estimate the group has tens of thousands of members across several Central American countries and many U.S. states. Trump's Justice and Homeland Security departments have made targeting the gang a top priority. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed his department's law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors across the country to prioritize their prosecution, as directed by an executive order Trump signed in February, among other measures. 'We're liberating our towns and we're liberating our cities. Can you believe we have to do that?' Trump said at an Ohio rally earlier this week, adding that law enforcement agents were rooting out gang members — and 'not doing it in a politically correct fashion. We're doing it rough.' 'Our guys are rougher than their guys,' he bragged. Since the beginning of January the Department of Homeland Security's investigative unit has arrested 3,311 gang members across the country in a number of targeted operations, said Tom Homan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency could not provide numbers for a similar timeframe in 2016. Trump's trip comes as Sessions is visiting El Salvador as part of a mission to increase international cooperation against the gang. Sessions met Thursday with his Salvadoran counterpart and members of an international anti-gang task force. Congressman Peter King, who represents Brentwood and will travel with the president from Washington, said that Trump's appearance would send a signal to communities that have been shaken by the violent killings. 'It's absolutely devastating. And almost all of these killings have occurred in my district, within 20 minutes of my home,' he said. King said the gang is responsible for 17 murders between January 2016 and April 2017 in his district — but that the impact on largely immigrant communities has been larger because of the way the gang kills. In addition to torturing victims, King said, members have also sent video of gruesome crime scenes to their victims' loved ones 'This gang's chilling motto is 'mata, viola, controla,'which means 'kill, rape and control,'' said Robert Hur, a top official at the Justice Department. 'They seek to live up to this motto through truly shocking acts of violence designed to instill fear: vicious machete attacks, execution-style gunshots, gang rape and human trafficking.' The Trump administration blames the gang's recent resurgence in certain areas on illegal immigration and believes policies like building a wall along the southern border and cracking down on so-called 'sanctuary cities' will eradicate the problem. Critics see the focus misplaced and argue resources could be better spent on other enforcement efforts. ___ Follow Colvin on Twitter at