Testimony implicates banker
By By Suzanne Monk/The Meridian Star
March 30, 2001
David Colvin, principal defendant in a federal trial taking place in Meridian, endured his third day on the stand Thursday, saving his most incriminating testimony against C.D. "Bubba" Newell for late in the afternoon.
Colvin was the regional manager of Comcast-Primestar in Meridian, and responsible for overseeing sales and expansions.
Federal prosecutors allege that Colvin and four co-defendants defrauded Comcast-Primestar cable television of $2.6 million in a false billing scheme. Colvin has pleaded guilty, and will receive a 25 percent reduction in his sentence in exchange for his testimony.
Thursday's action in U.S. District Court centered on two of the four defendants: Newell, a former vice president of Trustmark National Bank in Meridian; and Kary Graham, who managed a Comcast satellite sales office in Waynesboro.
C.D. "Bubba" Newell
Colvin said the American Express cards at the center of the prosecution's case were originally used for legitimate business expenses to set up satellite offices for Comcast in cities like Philadelphia and Waynesboro.
It was Newell, he said, who later came up with the idea to use the card to defraud Comcast.
The house Colvin was building was next door to Newell's on Lindley Road. A second home, near Dogwood Lake, was being re-modeled for the benefit of Newell's children Colvin's godchildren.
Colvin said Newell was helping him with the construction projects, and that Newell paid expenses associated with both on Colvin's Amex. Automobiles, four-wheelers and a mobile home were purchased the same way.
Defense attorney Henry Palmer challenged Colvin's assertion that Newell knew about the illegal activity. Around Lauderdale County, Colvin had explained his sudden affluence by saying that a relative had died and left him money or that he had a trust fund.
He did not, he said, tell Newell this.
Palmer pointed to Tuesday testimony that seemed to contradict this statement. In it, Colvin said he told Newell how the Amex cards were "set up" well after the fraudulent charges began.
Colvin said that statement referred to legitimate charges, not fraudulent ones. The seeming discrepancy was left up to the jury to decide.
Defense attorney Charlie Wright's cross-examination of Colvin focused on three areas: 1) whether Graham knew the charges he was paying were fraudulent; 2) whether Graham had anything to do with paying Amex invoices; and 3) whether Graham had challenged Colvin about the kinds of invoices he was being asked to pay.
Colvin had admitted that, over the course of time, he had begun "slipping in" personal expenses amid business expenses.
Wright introduced a thick sheaf of invoices and canceled checks representing bills paid by Graham. In each case, he asked if there was any indication on the invoice that the purchase was not business-related. In each case the answer was no.
Only one of the checks Wright introduced was an Amex invoice, for an Optima card. Colvin said that card was not one of the ones in question and Graham had no knowledge of the American Express accounts in question.
Wright asked if he remembered a series of confrontations with Graham over the kinds of expenses listed on the invoices.
Colvin did not deny that they might have happened, but could not recall that they actually did adding at one point that Graham did not hesitate to confront him on other business issues.
Wright re-framed his question, asking if he remembered a confrontation that occurred in the presence of another Comcast employee. Colvin said he could not recall that incident.
Wright asked Colvin whether he remembered telling Graham that Comcast management had agreed to pay some of his personal bills.
Colvin said he could not recall that incident either.
Colvin is expected to take the stand again today. Attorney Henry Palmer will continue his cross-examination with more questions about Newell's relationship with Colvin.
Also expected are questions about the final defendant named in the federal government's indictment. Darrell Wayne Raley, also represented by Palmer, is a local contractor who worked on both the Lindley Road house and the remodeling project on Dogwood Lake.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.