The Donnan verdict

I don’t usually do requests like this, but since Mayor asked so nicely, here’s a thread for everyone to opine about Jim Donnan’s acquittal.

The only thing I’ve got to say about the whole thing is that the next time somebody tries to impress you with how smart college coaches are, remind him or her that Donnan didn’t have any problem finding plenty of buddies who believed they were making a risk-free investment generating a 50-200% return.  So much for “if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is” folk wisdom.


Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant

56 responses to “The Donnan verdict

  1. I Wanna Red Cup

    Good lawyers make a difference…..and are not cheap.

  2. Dawgaholic

    Ed Tolley is pretty good. Not sure about the facts but know that Ed will do a really good job.

  3. greeneggboy

    But didn’t he use the “just a dumb football coach” defense?

    • Dawgaholic

      It worked, right?

      • greeneggboy

        I really don’t know what worked. Didn’t follow the case closely and haven’t read anything from the jurors about why they chose to find him not guilty. I’m just pointing out the irony in the Senator’s statement (which I agree with) that you have to be pretty smart to convince that many people to part with that much money.

        • Normaltown Mike

          actually, I took the Senator’s statement to be that “a fool and his money are easily parted” and that many college football “geniuses” and “great minds” are anything but.

          • Dawgoholic

            For the first time, the decisions to anoint Quincy Carter and hire Kevin Ramesy make a positive impact for Jim Donnan.

  4. I didn’t pay too much attention, but I did read one summary of what Donnan’s pitch was and I couldn’t help but wonder how stupid those coaches were.

    • Normaltown Mike

      In one story I read, some e-mails were revealed by an investment adviser/financial planner here in Athens. The guy characterized Donnan’s business prospectus as belonging to one who has been eating “retard sandwiches”. I don’t know if his client invested, but he was put on notice by a professional of how idiotic the venture was.

  5. 69Dawg

    Having worked for the IRS for 11 years early in my career, the Feds always like a good show trial. The bigger the name the better. They used to be pretty good at winning them. Now the public perception of the Federal government as a bunch of bumbling, bullies it has made the show trial a risky business. I’m sure the Federal Attorneys were convinced that the jury would see Donnan as a bad guy that took advantage of his friends but the jury nullified the laws because they thought Donnan was a good guy that just got caught in a bad situation. Score one for the jury system. The only investors more gullible than coaches are doctors and dentists. Greed is not good.

    • 202dawg

      I was ALMOST ready to hit send on something similar. Greed is bad, and big risks are dangerous. Somehow I feel like the other high profile investors didn’t want to roll on Donna anyhow, since it would probably make them look like idiots…

    • JG Shellnutt

      Yeah, doctors sure are dumb…

      • 202dawg

        I don’t think ‘gullible’ and ‘dumb’ are mutually exclusive. I know a few surgeons who sold Amway. Would you wan them operating on you?

        • StevoDawg

          I took securities regulation in lawschool and the cases we studied always seemed to involve doctors losing their shirts.

      • 3rdandGrantham

        They certainly can be. Why else is it generally recommended to get a second opinion before opting for a major surgery and such? My older brother is a radiologist, and while he’s certainly very smart and successful in his given field, he’s borderline clueless in other areas, including financial ones.

        Most of the talented, successful people I know are so engaged in their select field of expertise that they give little to no attention to anything else outside of their area of practice (not to mention that they often put in 80-100 hour workweeks for years, like football coaches.)

  6. Joe Schmoe

    I worked for Ed Tolley while I was attending UGA and I can vouch for the fact that he is an excellent attorney and specializes in federal criminal defense. I was not surprised in the slightest that he got Donnan off.
    I never ceased to be amazed by the general like of financial sense among even the wealthiest of people.

  7. Tommy

    Quotes like this from the jury foreman …

    “His overall character as a man over the years that he’s a man led me to believe what I believe,” said Ricks, a 55-year-old resident of Hartwell. “He basically helped people all his life, and I just didn’t think he would go into something to cheat his family and put them in harm’s way. Or his friends.”

    … lead me to believe this case was over at jury selection.

    • Lrgk9

      Like my con artist ex client used to say ‘it’s hard to cheat an honest man. He doesn’t expect something for nothing.’

      Got to wonder – Jimbo really did a disservice to those who trusted him to have done due diligence. Criminally and Morally a cloudy gray day for Jimbo and those who fell in with his ‘misconceptions’.

      • 3rdandGrantham

        Donnan avoided jail time and all the rest, but he’ll never get his credibility or reputation back—it will follow him to his grave. I don’t know him personally but I’ve heard that he’s genuinely a good guy from a select number of sources.

        Thus, I’m guessing deep down Donnan will always be haunted by this and will have it weighing on his conscious. He won’t have peace of mind or overall solace as he lives out the remainder of his years, regardless of what his defense told the jurors about him being a mere middleman and such.

        • Normaltown Mike

          “but I’ve heard that he’s genuinely a good guy from a select number of sources”

          Probably not from Loran Smith. I seem to recall Coach Donnan defenestrated ole Loran at a press conference early in his tenure.

          That kid on the call in show that made a crack about tunnel screens might also beg to differ.

          • TomReagan

            He treated Loran like crap on the sideline on the way to the locker room during his first game against Southern Miss. He lost a lot of the old Dawg fans immediately.

        • Dog in Fla

          “but I’ve heard that he’s genuinely a good guy from a select number of sources”

          There’s nothing but blue sky and sunshine ahead for him now. He’s free at last to be led into to coming up with more great investment opportunities for others.

    • Dog in Fla

      Clearly Jim was in the people helping business

      • 202dawg

        And cousin, business was a boomin’

        • Dog in Fla

          “I don’t always recruit, but when I do, I prefer to recruit using the can’t miss Family approach. Stay thirsty, my sons. And thanks for the memories.”

          “In some instances involving former players, Donnan used his influence to convince them to invest. For example, when approaching a former player that Donnan had coached, Donnan told him “Your Daddy [sic] is going to take care of you” and “if you weren’t my son, I wouldn’t be doing this for you.” That player later invested $800,000.”

  8. Mayor

    Donnan may have been guilty of something but the way the Feds cooked the case by making a deal with the guy who really WAS guilty in exchange for testimony to try to pin it all on Donnan really smelled. I have a friend who used to be a Federal prosecutor and he told me (not about the Donnan case) that some in his office loved to get a high-profile defendant so they could work a deal with other defendants to place the blame on the high-profile guy, “to get a hide on the wall.” That’s what happened here and the jurors saw through it. As an aside, the judge (Ashley Royal, a double Dawg himself) used to be a prosecutor and by his actions when reading the verdict betrayed the fact that he was on the side of the prosecution, methinks.

  9. South FL Dawg

    I didn’t follow the case closely. Despite how dumb investors and jurors can be in financial matters, it isn’t hard to see that Donnan and his son profitted before he was forced to repay the other investors, yet that was ignored. Even if Donnan initially thought the scheme was honest, look at how he tried to shield his assets once he knew it was fraudulent. The basic facts were against him; maybe it’s how the relevant law is worded that let him get out of it. Just wow.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      If it doesn’t fit….. ? I think JD has not enjoyed his last view of the inside of a courtroom.

    • cube

      Did Donnan (and his son) make money off this scheme, even after it went south? Just curious if his net return was positive or negative. Also curious as to what the positive/negative figure was. Anybody know the details? The few articles that I’ve read on the subject don’t include this information.

      • Normaltown Mike

        back when it broke, I perused this site.

        Don’t know if it will have anything relevant to what you are asking

        • cube

          Thanks. I’ll see if I can look through that tonight or sometime soon.

          One thing I did find in my quick skim just now is that Greg Johnson, the guy who pled guilty, is Donnan’s son-in-law. I didn’t know that. Interesting that it was a family scheme.

          • cube

            I had that wrong. Greg Crabtree is the one who pled guilty and ran the day to day operations. As far as I know, he is not related to Donnan.

  10. Chuck

    I have no personal information, but I do know Ed Tolley and have worked on cases with him. I called the verdict (in another forum) after I read snips of the opening statements. The prosecution claimed that Donnan was ‘the mastermind’, and that was clearly something they were never going to be able to sell. Tolley works the case thoroughly, knows everything he can about it, and if he hasn’t got a good case will get the best deal available.

    • cube

      If he wasn’t the “mastermind”, who was? His son-in-law?

      • cube

        Nevermind, I was wrong in thinking that his son-in-law was the guy who pled guilty. He wasn’t. It was someone else (Greg Crabtree). Maybe that guy was the “mastermind”.

        • Dog in Fla

          The Federal Prosecution Dream Team may have been using the Uncle Rico methodology, “So how does the dealio sound to you?” Whoever said it was the mastermind.

  11. Debby Balcer

    The sad thing is all those people who trusted him and lost their money. We had a case of a respected man in SC selling silver to people hear that was also a positive scheme. He got richer but went to jail they are hunting his assets now. Diannan has lost his reputation now and will never recover it.

    • Debby Balcer

      Boy autocorrect changed my post. That sentence should say we had a case of a respected man here selling sliver that was also a ponzi scheme. Donnan has lost his reputation.

  12. ClydeBoogie

    I have zero legal expertise but I do know Eddie T is my attorney of choice in any legal situation. The dude is gangasta…well except for A J’s case

  13. the Mayor had it right the Feds are well known for making a deal with the real “bad guy ” in order to prosecute the high profile defendant. Also someone on this post has to have read the Federal sentencing guidelines. They provides that one of the only reasons for downward deviation from the mandatory sentences that the Feds hand out is providing “valuable assistance” to the prosecution. If I’m already going to jail and the most efficient way to shorten my stay is to lie …well… I’d swear that the Senator is a real Senator.
    Additionally some of the witnesses the Feds put up said Donnan was good man and still their friend even after lost their money. One of the witnesses who the prosecutors called indicated that he’d played golf with Donnan the week before trial. If the victims were not pissed why should the State try to crush him with 41 counts?
    One of the Feds’ star witnesses was Kendrell Bell who seemed to be about as angry at Donnan as almost anyone but hell if that is one of your star witnesses you are in a hell of a mess because that was one of the dumbest players the Dawgs have ever had and trust me I know that is saying something.