ATHENS — I’m not sure how I would act in public, or certainly around the media, if I was facing facing 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in federal court. But I’m guessing I would wear my emotions on my sleeve a little more than Jim Donnan.
Day two of jury deliberations passed Thursday without a verdict in Donnan’s fraud trial. There’s no way to read into what that means, other than the jury is taking its time weighing each of the 41 counts. A quick acquittal is off the table, but then so is a quick guilty verdict.
Donnan and his former business partner, Gregory Crabtree, who has since taken a plea deal, are accused of enticing 94 people to invest more than $80 million in GLC Limited, Inc., although the Securities and Exchange Commissioner viewed the enterprise as a Ponzi scheme.
Nobody wants to be the defendant in a lawsuit when the plaintiff is the United States of America. If you are Donnan, the former Georgia coach and still an Athens resident, this is far more serious than the Florida game.
But Donnan isn’t sweating, at least not publicly. While the jury was deliberating for more than six hours Thursday, Donnan often was in the hallway outside the courtroom, either walking to stretch his legs or chatting with a few reporters.
“What do you think of (Todd) Grantham?” he asked me this morning, referencing the Bulldogs’ former defensive coordinator. Meanwhile, a jury was deciding whether or not he might go to prison.
And that opened the door to one of a few discussions through the day about Georgia, college football, college basketball, the Falcons or something else — anything but the trial.
My guess is that while Donnan is acting calm public, his stomach feels like Mt. Vesuvius. It’s probably even worse on his wife and other family members, who are with him. That’s not meant to be a sympathy vote. If Donnan’s guilty of what he’s accused of, he should go to jail. Prosecutors say GLC investors had combined losses of $23 million, and Donnan had profits totaling $8.5 million (although he’s now in bankruptcy).
Donnan already has lost a lot — his career, his reputation, his credibility. He could soon lose his freedom. But you wouldn’t know it by talking to him.