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Former Georgia coach Jim Donnan found not guilty of fraud charges

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
In this Aug. 7, 2000 file photo, Georgia football coach Jim Donnan speaks during the team's preseason media day in Athens, Ga. A prosecutor said former University of Georgia football coach Donnan lured his friends into a fraudulent investment scheme because he was blinded by the enormous amount of money he could make. Prosecutor Pete Peterman made that assertion Wednesday in his closing argument in Donnan's trial on charges including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering
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FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2000 file photo, Georgia football coach Jim Donnan speaks during the team's preseason media day in Athens, Ga. A prosecutor said former University of Georgia football coach Donnan lured his friends into a fraudulent investment scheme because he was blinded by the enormous amount of money he could make. Prosecutor Pete Peterman made that assertion Wednesday in his closing argument in Donnan's trial on charges including wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. (AP Photo/Athens Daily News, Dot Paul, File)

According to the Associated Press, former Georgia and Marshall head coach Jim Donnan was found not guilty of all 41 charges against him in an investment fraud scheme case.

Donnan, who faced charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and securities fraud, was said to have run a Ponzi scheme with associate Gregory Crabtree that cost investors nearly $23 million.

Prosecutors claimed that Donnan and Crabtree ran the scheme through GLC Limited, a West-Virginia based business that “sold closeout merchandise.” The two promised high return rates for investors, but prosecutors said that the company did not sell much merchandise and instead “repaid early investors with contributions of later investors,” per the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Crabtree was said to have managed day-to-day operations, while Donnan used his relationships with a vast network, including several well-known college coaches, to attract investors. Former Alabama and current Texas State coach Dennis Franchione and current Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville were among the coaches called to the witness stand by the prosecution.

Many investors who testified said that they trusted Donnan, and Franchione, who lost more than $1 million, said he still considers Donnan a friend.

Donnan’s attorneys said that he simply was trying to share what he thought was a great investment with his friends and that he was a victim of Crabtree’s scheme too.

Per the AJC, Donnan told reporters after the not guilty verdict, “I feel vindicated, and I hope I can get my life back.”

Donnan, who was fired by Georgia in 2000 and hasn’t coached since, led Marshall to the I-AA National Championship in 1992 and coached UGA to four straight bowl wins in the late 90’s. He also served as an assistant coach at NC State, Florida State, North Carolina, Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma from 1969-1989 before getting hired at Marshall.

Crabtree is facing up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge last month.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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