Jim Donnan will not testify, jury to get case soon

semerson@macon.comMay 13, 2014 

Jim Donnan was Georgia's head football coach from 1996-2000, compiling a 41-19 overall record.

FILE PHOTO

ATHENS - The trial of Jim Donnan is rapidly drawing to a close, with the former Georgia head football coach deciding not to testify in his own defense.

Donnan, 69, is charged with 41 counts including wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, related to what the federal government alleges was a Ponzi scheme.

The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday, after four-plus days of witness testimony. Donnan's defense team opted for a much shorter approach, planning to call just four witnesses, the final one - Tennessee businessman Nelson Bowers - due in court Wednesday morning. At that point each team will make closing arguments, each estimated to be around an hour, and then the jury will get the case.

Donnan will not be one of the witnesses, as he informed judge C. Ashley Royal in court Tuesday, while the jury was out of the room.

"I have made the decision not to testify, your honor," Donnan said.

But his son Todd Donnan, who also invested in the failed company GLC, did testify, called by both the prosecution and defense. When Todd Donnan took the stand on Tuesday, hhe said his father was fired up in 2007 about GLC, and its earning potential. Jim Donnan proceeded to recruit a litany of investors, including big-name coaches like Frank Beamer, Barry Switzer, Billy Gillispie, Mark Gottfried, Dennis Franchione and Tommy Tuberville. The latter four testified on Monday.

Almost every investor ended up losing money when GLC imploded in 2010, and several lost millions. Donnan's lawyers have argued that the ex-coach also lost money, and was simply duped by Gregory Crabtree, his ex-partner in GLC.

Todd Donnan testified Tuesday that the first time he realized the company was in trouble was the summer of 2010, when he was told he may not receive a scheduled payment that August.

Defense attorney Ed Tolley then asked Todd Donnan why he didn't think, up until that moment, there was reason to worry.

"I know that my Dad loves me and my children more than anything in the world, and he would never put us in harm's way," Todd Donnan said.

Crabtree has already pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy, and faces up to five years in prison. He testified last week, one of more than two dozen witnesses the prosecution called.

The witness list had included several other big names who it now appears will not be called to testify, including Beamer, Switzer, Bill Parcells, Hines Ward, Mack Brown and Boss Bailey.

Donnan's defense team made a standard motion for some if not all of the counts to be dismissed, but Royal declined.

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