Originally written on SPORTS by BROOKS  |  Last updated 2/21/12

Last August SbB reported that a West Virginia-based company, Global Liquidation Center Ltd. (GLC), had accused former Georgia and Marshall head football coach Jim Donnan of running a Ponzi scheme that eventually bankrupted the company.

(Donnan to BCG: Pound Sand)

The civil action filed by GLC in a federal bankruptcy court last year was the first in what’s turned out to be a race by dozens of claimants to obtain what’s left of Donnan’s dwindling personal estate. After GLC filed for Chapter 11, Donnan quickly filed for bankruptcy himelf to protect around $5 million in assets from GLC and innumerable alleged Ponzi victims - including many sports celebrities.

From federal court exhibits posted by SbB seven months ago - which included fairly indecipherable and oft-incoherent handwritten notes from the former football coach -  here’s how Donnan’s Ponzi (allegedly) worked:

(Barry Switzer was sports acquaintance prey for (alleged) Donnan Ponzi)

1) Allegedly presenting himself as representative of GLC, Donnan would solicit “loans” from friends and sports celebs like Tommy Tuberville, Frank Beamer, Mark Gottfried and recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill with the promise of annualized returns of up to 70%. Donnan’s pitch was to tell alleged victims that their money was going to purchase surplus retail items that would eventually be resold. (Funding GLC’s business model/operation.)

2) Donnan allegedly enlisted Dennis Franchione to solicit multiple alleged Ponzi investors, including Billy Gillispie. In a separate legal action, GLC is now pursuing $95,000 in alleged commissions the current Texas State head football coach was allegedly paid by Donnan for luring Gillispie into the alleged scheme.

3) After receiving the money allegedly solicited by Donnan and Franchione, GLC would pay out exorbitant fees to Donnan and Franchione for their “services” - along with sky-high loan interest rate payments to Donnan’s investors. Donnan and Franchione themselves also “invested” in the company with the expectation they’d recoup as much as 70% of their loan principal in 12 months.

More pertinent details:

  • Federal court docs submitted by GLC in its initial BK filing indicated that Donnan helped secure $81,916,000 from investors.
  • During the same period, GLC alleged that Donnan billed the company $14,557,228.50 in personal loan interest and commissions.
  • Of the $82 million in investor funds solicited by Donnan, GLC reported that $11,793,000 was invested in company operations.
  • Who exactly helped Donnan perpetrate his alleged Ponzi from within the company is subject to an ongoing investigation that could eventually see GLC executives and/or Donnan and/or Franchione charged in criminal court.

The highest-profile loser in Donnan’s alleged scheme, according to multiple court document filings, was/is Billy Gillispie.

On Oct. 24, 2011, Gillispie filed a claim against Donnan in federal bankruptcy court over $1,913,167.00 the Texas Tech basketball coach “loaned” to Donnan to invest in GLC company operations. In one loan document signed by the two parties and filed in federal bankruptcy court last year, Gillispie was to receive an annual 60% interest rate on a principal of $1,000,000 paid to GLC via Donnan.

In Donnan’s own handwritten notes - appearing in court docs - the ex-coach also noted that Franchione was to be paid a five percent commission for allegedly luring Gillispie into that particular deal. (Which GLC represenatives are now pursuing from the Texas State coach.)

In another federal court document, it appeared that Donnan and a GLC official drew up a $2,000,000 “loan” from Gillispie to GLC at “65 percent interest per year.”

Gillispie though did not sign that agreement.

Gillispie’s initial claim was completely rebuffed by Donnan in a November 18, 2011, legal response. Two months later, Gillispie’s lawyer specifically alleged to the judge that Donnan misrepresented a Ponzi scheme as a legit business endeavor to his client, punctuating a lengthy court filing rife with legal citations by asking that …

the Court set a discovery deadline in this matter and a final hearing if deemed appropriate, and that it grant Claimants such other and further relief deemed to be just and proper.

A Jan. 25, 2012, hearing was subsequently set for possible disposition of Gillispie’s $1.9 million claim. Though that was just one of  36(!) other claims against Donnan scheduled for the same day. Because so many remain steadfast in their uncompromisig pursuit of the ex-Georgia football coach, the backed-up Athens, Georgia, federal court continued all civil proceedings until March 20, 2012.

And with remarkably few settlements in sight for the remaining claimants against Donnan, federal criminal investigators best pack a retard sandwich too. We may be here awhile.

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

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