Newell guilty on all counts
ORDEAL OVER n Wayne Raley and his wife, Cathy, leave the U.S. District Courthouse Friday after the jury acquitted him on all counts. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star.
By Suzanne Monk/The Meridian Star
April 14, 2001
The jury in the Comcast trial returned a mixed verdict Friday afternoon. They agreed with federal prosecutors that a conspiracy to defraud Comcast existed but said its only members were David Van Colvin and C.D. "Bubba" Newell.
The U.S. Attorney's 21-count indictment alleged that David Van Colvin and four co-conspirators defrauded Comcast of $2.6 million in a money-laundering scheme between January 1994 and August 1996. Colvin, who was the regional manager of Comcast-Primestar, pleaded guilty in 1999.
The trial of his alleged co-conspirators began three weeks ago in U.S. District Court, with Judge Tom Lee presiding.
The jury found contractor Darrell Wayne Raley "not guilty" on all counts. Raley had been indicted for conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money-laundering and 12 counts of money-laundering.
The jury found Kary Graham "not guilty" on all counts. Graham, former manager of a Comcast-Primestar satellite sales office, had been indicted for conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud and mail fraud.
The jury convicted C.D. "Bubba" Newell on all counts. Newell, a former vice president of Trustmark National Bank, was indicted for conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money-laundering, 12 counts of money-laundering and three counts of tax evasion.
The jury acquitted Kim Gianakos in Counts 1 and 4 of the indictment, conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money-laundering but convicted her of mail fraud in Count 2.
Attorney Frank Trapp said it is too early to say whether he will appeal on behalf of Gianakos, but said he plans to discuss the matter with his client.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 22 in U.S. District Court in Jackson.
Gianakos declined to comment.
Attorney Charlie Wright had harsh words for Comcast after the verdict.
He said his wording, naming Comcast as the accuser instead of the U.S. Attorney, was deliberate.
Wright also represents Graham in a lawsuit filed against Comcast in Lauderdale County Circuit Court seeking payment of outstanding invoices.
Raley said his life can begin again.
His wife, Cathy, echoed his thoughts.
Attorney Henry Palmer said he will advise Newell to appeal the jury's decision. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 22 in U.S. District Court in Jackson. Newell declined to comment.
Count 21 of the indictment concerned forfeiture of assets by Gianakos and Newell in the event of money-laundering convictions.
Gianakos was acquitted of conspiracy to commit money-laundering, and was not subject to forfeiture demands.
Newell was convicted of conspiracy to commit money-laundering and 12 counts of money-laundering. The indictment called for Newell to forfeit $1,095,844.03 the amount of money listed in the money-laundering counts to the federal government.
Judge Lee recessed the jurors briefly while negotiations took place, but their services were unneeded. Newell reached a compromise with Assistant U.S. Attorney Bob Anderson to forfeit $400,000.
Anderson agreed to wait for payment until Newell's appeal is complete.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail her at email@example.com.
The jurors retired to consider their verdict Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and went home for the day at 5:45 p.m. They returned to the U.S. District Courthouse Friday at 8:30 a.m. and completed their deliberations at about 1:20 p.m.
The longer a jury deliberates, the greater the temptation to theorize about what they might be discussing. Rumors circulate about their questions to the judge, which are scrutinized like tea leaves for hidden meaning. Heads turn and conversation stops if anyone goes near the jury room door.
Friends and family members gathered in the hallway after Wayne Raley and Kary Graham were acquitted. Everyone was crying and hugging, and it seemed every other person was on a cell phone spreading the good news.
The indictment contains language about other possible conspirators "known and unknown," but no additional charges have been made so far.
In the course of the trial, jurors learned the letter that led to an internal Comcast audit and, ultimately, the trial they were called on to judge was written by accountant Michael Crosby. The letter, however, was not introduced into evidence.
David Van Colvin pleaded guilty in 1999 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and income tax evasion. He will receive a 25 percent reduction in his sentence in exchange for testifying. A sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate has not yet been scheduled.
U.S. District Judge Tom Lee praised the jury. "I am most favorably impressed by the way you have discharged your function… I realize this is a real intrusion in your lives." The judge gave the jury high marks for attentiveness, patience and punctuality.