ATHENS, Ga., — Some are calling it Jim Donnan’s biggest win.

The former Marshall University and University of Georgia head football coach was found not guilty Friday in a Georgia federal courtroom on 41 criminal counts. The jury didn’t believe Donnan operated a fraudulent investor scheme. The 69-year-old Donnan walked out of the courtroom a free man.

Federal prosecutors alleged Donnan and Greg Crabtree of Proctorville, Ohio, operated the scheme from 2007-2010 under GLC Limited, a business that dealt in wholesale and closeout merchandise. Federal prosecutors alleged Donnan recruited former players, coaches and others to become part of investment but never came through on promised profits. Prosecutors said Donnan then tried to save the company once it was going under.

Reporter Curtis Johnson with the Huntington Herald-Dispatch covered the trial from start to finish in Athens, Georgia. He said Friday on MetroNews Talkline before the verdict was returned Donnan’s defense was simple.

“The defense basically argues that Donnan had no idea of what was happening. (They said) Greg Crabtree was the one paying investors with investment money and that Donnan was unaware of this the whole time,” Johnson said.

Donnan did not take the stand during the trial but Crabtree did. He cut an earlier plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony but the jury didn’t buy it. The jury foreman told Johnson and other reporters after the verdict was read that federal prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence against Donnan.

Donnan was the head coach at Marshall from 1990-1995.

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Comments

  • John DeMarco- Head Baseball Coach at Lincoln High in Harrison County

    Hi. I listened to you and Mr. Weekley daily on the whip-around. You are very informative. John DeMarco. This is to Jeff Jenkins.

  • P B and J

    Can he add this W to his lifetime win column?

  • WVU 74

    From the Atlanta Journal Constitution -- 5/16/2014 --

    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 reached. “I just never saw that smoking gun that proved guilt,” Ricks said. “I kept thinking every single day (during the trial) that the government was going to pull out a smoking gun. And there never was.”

    Ricks said testimony revealed Donnan solicited help to try to resolve GLC’s problems when they became apparent in 2010. “That 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 didn’t think he’d go into something to harm his family,” said Ricks, citing Donnan’s “overall character.”

  • arp

    The US Attorneys offices get into all types of cases which the federal government has no business prosecuting--these should be the domain of the state courts. So it's always pleasing to see them get beat at their own game.

    • DIASPORA

      Just to be clear..... The US Constitution charges the federal government with the oversight of interstate commerce. In addition, investment schemes typically involve wire transfer and other multi-state and overseas transactions. The federal government is the only entity that can enforce this sector of the economy.... Warts and all.

  • William101

    WVU fan here. Good for Donnan. There aren't that many not guilty verdicts that come back.

    The US government gives limited discovery. There is more trial by ambush in federal court than state court. They over indict, figuring the jury will compromise and they will get at least a couple of convictions, even if on more minor offenses.

    The jury did NOT buy anything. That means this jury had reasonable doubt. I won't second guess the result.

  • Jim N Charleston

    Found Not Guilty. Hmmh
    Yeah, So was Casey Anthony & OJ.

    All I got
    Jim N So Charleston

    • Michael

      I would sue anyone and everyone if I had charges filed against me and had a not guilty verdict. I did to my ex wife for various charges she filed in court against me

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    Jim probably had some knowledge that at least a portion of his business was less than legal. I found myself cheering this decision but I don't really know why . Maybe its because Jim was a huge underdog - its not everyday that you beat the Feds 41 times . The Feds prob offered him a pre trial plea bargain for less jail , instead Jim rolled the dice and hit a jackpot . In this country the Feds have the burden of proving guilt and at least in this case the jury wasn't convinced . Maybe Jim will become the CEO of Big Lots .

  • thornton

    So, the defense was..... Donnan was Dumb.

    • Wirerowe

      The following is from a report in the State Journal in September 16, 2012. It is one of the charges and Donnan doesn't look so dumb when you consider some investors lost everything." Donnan also directed some of the proceed to benefit his children and a son-in-law, namely daughter Tammy Donnan, son Todd Donnan, and son-in-law (Gregory K.) Johnson. Each of the Donnan Children invested relatively modest amounts in the scheme and then received regular streams of payments for a substantial duration of the fraud, resulting in unjust enrichment," the complaint says.

      According to the complaint, Todd Donnan, who played quarterback at Marshall in the 1990s, invested $232,000 in GLC with a business colleague and received payments totaling $620,333. Tammy Donnan invested $16,000 and received $140,000. Johnson invested $131,000 and received $617,875.

  • Max

    With the resources available to federal prosecutors this is very rare...must have been a very poor case or horrible prosecutor. Defense attorney had a brilliant strategy...keep it simple. Sometimes it works.