Thursday, August 16, 2012
The SEC announced fraud charges against Jim Donnan, a former college football coach who teamed with an Ohio man to conduct an $80 million Ponzi scheme that included other college coaches and former players among its victims. According to the SEC, Donnan, a College Football Hall of Fame inductee who guided teams at Marshall University and the University of Georgia and later became a television commentator, conducted the fraud with his business partner Gregory Crabtree through a West Virginia-based company called GLC Limited. Donnan and Crabtree told investors that GLC was in the wholesale liquidation business and earning substantial profits by buying leftover merchandise from major retailers and reselling those discontinued, damaged, or returned products to discount retailers. They promised investors exorbitant rates of return ranging from 50 to 380 percent. However, only about $12 million of the $80 million raised from nearly 100 investors was actually used to purchase leftover merchandise, and the remaining funds were used to pay fake returns to earlier investors or stolen for other uses by Donnan and Crabtree.
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in Atlanta, the scheme began in August 2007 and collapsed in October 2010. Donnan recruited the majority of investors by approaching contacts he made as a sports commentator and as a coach. For instance, he capitalized on his influence over one former player by telling him, “Your Daddy is going to take care of you” … “if you weren’t my son, I wouldn’t be doing this for you.” The player later invested $800,000.
The SEC’s complaint charges Donnan, who lives in Athens, Ga., and Crabtree, who resides in Proctorville, Ohio, with violations of the antifraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint also names two of Donnan’s children and his son-in-law as relief defendants for the purpose of recovering illicit funds that Donnan steered to them.