Colvin: I lied'
TRIAL Attorney Frank Trapp of Jackson exits the Federal Courthouse in Meridian Wednesday afternoon with his client, Kim Gianakos. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
March 29, 2001
David Van Colvin, the principal defendant in a federal fraud trial unfolding in Meridian, told jurors Wednesday that alleged co-conspirator Kim Gianakos had no knowledge of his illegal activities.
Colvin has pleaded guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud in connection with the theft of $2.6 million from Comcast-Primestar cable television.
The former regional manager of Comcast testified that he instructed Gianakos, owner of a Meridian advertising and public relations firm, to bill his company for "marketing expenses" he charged on his American Express card.
Colvin said he told Gianakos the amounts to be billed were "legitimate business expenses" that needed to be included in the company's marketing budget.
Gianakos, in turn, would bill Comcast for the marketing expenses and then reimburse Colvin's American Express Account when the bills were paid.
Gianakos is one of four people indicted as co-conspirators, accused of bilking Comcast through the billing scheme.
A federal grand jury in February released a 21-count indictment, adding two counts to a list of 19 charges issued in March 2000 against Gianakos and alleged co-conspirators Clifford D. "Bubba" Newell, Kary Graham and Darrell Wayne Raley.
The indictments allege Raley and Newell used Colvin's personal American Express account to obtain cash, and pay for non-business expenses and pre-existing debts.
The indictments further allege co-conspirators Gianakos and Graham paid the American Express bills and recovered the money through invoices fraudulently billed to Comcast by Gianakos' firm.
Colvin's testimony on Wednesday further revealed Gianakos had told Colvin she would no longer bill Comcast to reimburse the American Express account without further authorization from the company. She was given authorization to do that through a letter from Colvin's boss.
Gianakos' attorney, Frank Trapp, asked Colvin if he had discussions with his father, senior vice president of Comcast, about the letter being forged. Colvin said he could remember having a discussion about the letter but could not recall the details of that discussion.
Colvin further testified he and another member of Comcast's management used Gianakos' blank stationery to fraudulently bill the company.
Colvin testified Tuesday that he has pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion, one count of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with the case. In the plea arrangement, Colvin will receive a sentence 25 percent less than the guidelines for each penalty. He is currently awaiting sentencing.
The trial, which began with jury selection Monday, is expected to last three weeks.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at email@example.com.