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Fraud trial begins for former Georgia coach Jim Donnan

By Chip Patterson | Staff Writer

The trial for Jim Donnan, facing 41 counts of federal charges including conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud, began this week in Athens, as federal prosecutors attempt to connect the former Georgia football coach to an $80 million Ponzi scheme.

Donnan is accused of running the scheme through GLC Limited Inc., a West Virginia-based company that dealth with closeout merchandise. Ed Tolley, Donnan's attorney, said Tuesday that Donnan was the "first investor" but also "first victim" in GLC's scheme, which was run with a man named Gregory Crabtree.

The latest, as of Wednesday morning's session, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The pace should pick up this afternoon as the prosecution has called Daniel Shoemaker. Shoemaker is a key witness for both sides as he is the individual who introduced Donnan and Gregory Crabtree, an alleged co-conspirator who has also pleaded guilty to is one count of fraud in this case. Shoemaker first met Donnan when he was at Marshall University in the 1990s. He was the longtime vice president of collegiate development at ESPN before joining the College of Charleston as the director of athletic advancement earlier this year.

Tolley claims Shoemaker brought in Donnan to invest in Shoemaker's business after it was clear Shoemaker wasn't going to get back the $110,000 he gave Crabtree to fund GLC. Tolley claims Shoemaker presented Crabtree as sophisticated contractor and money maker, even though he had previously bankrupted twice.

According to the Associated Press, among other outlets, Donnan used his connections to raise money for GLC through other wealthy figures from the college coaching community. The AP lists Texas State football coach Dennis Franchione, Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer, ex-Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, Cincinnati football coach Tommy Tuberville and North Carolina State basketball coach Mark Gottfried as just a few of the notable coaches lured into the scheme.

"These people invested in GLC because they trusted Mr. Donnan," prosecutor Paul McCommon said Tuesday.

The trial is expected to last two to three weeks in U.S. District Court in Athens.

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