Former Georgia and Marshall head coach Jim Donnan is on trial for allegedly operating an $80 million Ponzi scheme and several well-known coaches testified Monday about losing hundreds of thousands of dollars after making investments through Donnan.
Former Auburn and current Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville and former Alabama and Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione, who is now at Texas State, both testified along with former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillespie and NC State basketball coach Mark Gottfried against Donnan, who is charged with 41 counts of fraud.
Those four coaches were among 18 investors in GLC Limited, Donnan’s failed West Virginia-based firm, who were called to the stand on Monday. Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, many of those investors said they were promised large return rates on investments “that GLC was supposed to use to purchase closeout inventory for resale to pre-determined buyers.”
According to the Macon Telegraph, Gillispie lost “about $1.7 million” and Franchione lost “more than $1.174 million.” Tuberville and his wife “ended up investing $1.9 million,” but it was not made clear during questioning what his net loss ended up being. Per the AJC, Gottfried estimated his net loss “at around $300,000."
Gillispie testified that Donnan said that an investment in GLC came with no risks and Tuberville said Donnan did not pressure him into an investment. Franchione said he “trusted” Donnan and Gottfried said Donnan compared an investment in GLC to an oil well and said that “it was a great opportunity to make some money.”
“It was kind of like the oil wells, they were already pumping, they were already making money, it was a great opportunity to join in,” Gottfried said.
Donnan’s defense team is arguing that the coach was duped by his ex-partner Gregory Crabtree and thought that GLC was actually a worthwhile investment while not knowing many details of what was actually happening with the business. Some of the investors who lost large sums of money even said that they don’t think Donnan intentionally deceived anyone.
Franchione even said that he was “still friends” with Donnan. The two have known each other for over 35 years.
“I have known Jim a long time, believed in him and trusted Jim,” Franchione said.
According to the AJC, the prosecution expects to finish presenting its case on Tuesday and Donnan’s lawyers expect to “complete their case by the end of Wednesday.” That timeline would bring closing arguments on Thursday followed by jury deliberations.
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