New charges in fraud case
By By Sharon White/The Meridian Star
Feb. 25, 2001
A 21-count federal indictment released Saturday adds to a list of 19 charges against four Lauderdale County residents accused in a scheme to defraud Comcast Cable in Meridian.
U.S. Attorney James B. Tucker said a federal grand jury issued the new indictment, which supersedes an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in March 2000 against Kim Gianakos, Kary Graham, Darrell Wayne Raley and Clifford D. "Bubba" Newell.
The earlier indictment accused them of a range of charges, including conspiracy, mail fraud and obtaining money by fraudulent purposes. The new indictment also charged Newell with evading more than $97,000 in federal income taxes and sought forfeiture of $350,000 from Gianakos and more than $1 million in forfeiture from Raley and Newell.
A trial is scheduled for March 5.
Gianakos, contacted at her Meridian home late Saturday, said she is "innocent of any wrongdoing." She also said the additional charges were levied "as a last-minute effort" to persuade her to plea bargain, which she described as "a first-time offer by the prosecution."
On March 21, 2000 a federal indictment was returned against the four charging they conspired with David Van Colvin, former regional manager of the Comcast-Primestar cable television operation in Meridian. The indictments alleged Raley and Newell used Colvin's personal American Express account to buy personal items and to obtain cash to pay preexisting debts for themselves and Colvin.
The indictments further alleged co-conspirators Gianakos and Graham would pay the American Express account and recover the money paid on Colvin's account through false invoices fraudulently billed to Comcast by Gianakos' advertising agency for advertising, and by sales of satellite television systems.
A delay in the original January trial date was granted because Gianakos' attorney, Frank W. Trapp, of Jackson, had been notified by prosecutors he could have possibly been called as a witness.
However, she will be represented by Trapp next month despite the previous confusion, according to Trapp.