Crime and Punishment

Former friend of ex-Hall of Fame coach Donnan faces prison time

$80 Million Ponzi scheme

In 2013, former College Hall of Fame coach Jim Donnan was indicted in a 41-count, $80 million Ponzi scheme that targeted nearly 100 high-profile investors including CEOs, football coaches, players and close friends. But while news cameras focused on the former University of Georgia coach, behind the scenes, Donnan's alleged business partner Gregory Crabtree was still fleecing investors, according to the former coach's attorney.

Former Georgia football coach Jim Donnan is shown after receiving his blazer during the College Hall of Fame pep rally in South Bend, Ind.
Joe Raymond | AP Photo

West Virginia-based Global Liquidation Center bought and sold closed out merchandise to resell at a higher price. According to the indictment, Donnan was allegedly chief executive. But a jury in May ruled the two men were not business partners. Donnan's name was cleared, and he was acquitted of all charges.

Donnan's attorney Ed Tolley says Donnan was the victim, and that he was unaware of the greater scheme, which Donnan and Tolley say was run by Crabtree.

CNBC caught up with Crabtree on his way to sentencing in August, but he declined to comment. Due to his plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office, Crabtree was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay just over $20 million.

Gregory Crabtree, founder of GLC, plead guilty to an $80 million Ponzi scheme and was sentenced in August to five years behind bars.

A date has yet to be set for Crabtree to report for incarceration. Multiple attempts to reach Crabtree's attorney for comment were unanswered.

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—By CNBC's Andrea Day and Valerie Patriarca

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