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What's not new in the Comcast trial

By Staff
Dec. 9, 2001
Defendants indicted by a Lauderdale County grand jury in November made their first court appearances Friday, as they reported to the courthouse for "arraignment day." A complete list of indictments will be issued as soon as the Circuit Court staff processes all the paperwork hopefully by late next week.
Quite a few phone calls …
Last week, I wrote a column about the upcoming "Profile 2002: The Fabric of America" edition instead of a "Notes from the Cops and Courts" column and I heard about it from six or seven readers.
Here's how all of those phone calls went:
Everyone was nice about it, one was even funny about it, and it was great to talk to some of the people who read this column regularly; meanwhile, they really wanted to know about the sentencing. It was an indicator of Meridian's continuing interest in the "Comcast trial" and its aftermath.
Review of the Comcast trial'
The U.S. Attorney's 21-count indictment alleged that Colvin and four co-conspirators defrauded Comcast of $2.6 million in a money-laundering scheme between January 1994 and August 1996. During that time, Colvin was regional manager of Comcast-Primestar.
Colvin pleaded guilty in 1999 to multiple counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and income tax evasion. He agreed to testify against his co-defendants in exchange for a 25 percent reduction in his sentence.
The trial of former banker C.D. "Bubba" Newell, publicist Kim Gianakos, former Comcast salesman Kary Graham and contractor Wayne Raley took place at the federal courthouse in Meridian in late March to mid-April of this year.
Only two were convicted.
Gianakos was acquitted of both conspiracy counts against her, but was convicted of one count of mail fraud. Newell was convicted of all counts against him conspiracy to commit wire/mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money-laundering, 12 counts of money-laundering and three counts of income tax evasion.
The order of the hearings matters
The trial in Meridian has been over for eight months and sentencing hearings for Colvin, Newell and Gianakos have been scheduled and re-scheduled in leap-frog fashion ever since.
The problem, as I understand it, is that Colvin needs to be sentenced last. This is not unusual. Prosecution witnesses who testify in exchange for sentencing consideration are generally sentenced last.
Several sentencing delays were granted to Gianakos and Newell, resulting in several re-scheduled court dates. Each time the Newell-Gianakos hearing moved, the Colvin hearing moved. Finally, the Newell-Gianakos hearing was put on hold indefinitely.
As Nov. 30 approached, Colvin had a hearing date but Newell and Gianakos didn't.
I called U.S. District Judge Tom Lee's office a couple of times to see if a Newell-Gianakos hearing had been scheduled. It hadn't. I called U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate's office a couple of times to see if a delay had been granted in Colvin's case. It hadn't.
Colvin sentencing almost happened
On Nov. 29, the afternoon before Colvin's scheduled sentencing hearing, Raymond Gregson of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division called to say he was sending a press release to tell me the Colvin hearing was "on."
I called Judge Wingate's office again.
So I started making inquiries about the protocol in Judge Wingate's courtroom, shuffling work schedules and making sure I knew how to get to the U.S. District Courthouse in Jackson.
Something changed before 5 o'clock
Late in the afternoon, Judge Wingate's clerk called. I was expecting answers to the protocol questions I had asked.
But, as it turned out, the hearing was "off" again. She said Colvin's attorney had filed a last-minute motion for continuance. This time, the hearing is not re-scheduled for a later date. It is simply on hold like the Newell-Gianakos hearing.
It's amazing it took me that long to say, "Nothing happened again," but there you have it. I'll keep you posted.
By the way, sentencing may go hard for Colvin. He was the federal government's witness and I understand that his testimony during the trial was something of a surprise to the two assistant U.S. attorneys who prosecuted the case.
The only one of his four co-defendants Colvin directly accused was Newell. Of him, Colvin repeatedly said, "Mr. Newell knew where the money was coming from. He was my banker."
Colvin testified that Gianakos and Raley didn't know a thing about defrauding Comcast. He couldn't remember whether Graham knew anything. Not exactly damning testimony, and not what the prosecution team wanted.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail her at smonk@themeridianstar.com.

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