The trial of Donald Watkins Sr. and Donald Watkins Jr. – both charged with wire fraud in 2018 and sentenced in March 2019 by a jury in federal court in Birmingham – was a surprisingly good capitalist scam drama.
In summary: Between 2009 and 2014, a prominent lawyer and his son were accused of subtracting investors to more than $ 10 million in investments in a biofuels business. Among these investors were professional athletes such as Takeo Spikes, a great NFL player, former NFL players such as Gibril Wilson and an NBA legend, TNT commentator and future governor of the NFL. Alabama Charles Barkley. All have testified or have been filed in the case, alongside witnesses such as former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Civil Rights Defender Martin Luther King III.
At one point, did you try to buy the St. Louis Rams? And a man cross-examining on the stand? What I say is a lot, and most countries have missed it. If this trial had been held in New York or Los Angeles, there would have been no other sports reporting that week. But it happened in Birmingham.
Here are the highlights – that is, the parts they will do in a podcast or in which the story of the real crime will be released later this year.
Watkins Sr. has swindled athletes, including one of the most vocal commentators in the NBA, on millions of people as part of a scheme involving a biofuels / energy company.
Investors such as Barkley and Spikes thought buying shares in a booming energy company called Masada Resource Group. Masada was worth potential "billions", according to Watkins Sr.
According to the SEC file, Masada became a vehicle for financing Watkins Sr.'s personal finances. He used the investors' money to pay his own financial debts, including the money he owed to his ex – wife, the debts of a previous investment in a local bank, the expenses of his girlfriend, the payment of a Cessna plane and the unpaid taxes.
Barkley estimated to have lost about $ 6 million on Masada. Spikes testified in court that he had lost a million because of the scam. He also had the opportunity to personally address Watkins Sr. at the bar and did not waste it.
Spikes says that Watkins has had the opportunity to do something good, and few people who look like him have the chance to do it.
Spikes: "You will get what you deserve, but be very grateful that it is not me who administers it."
Spikes leaves the witness stand.
– Madison Underwood (@MadisonU) February 20, 2019
Please note that Takeo Spikes has found a way to tell a man "be thankful that you do not take this FDA first-class asskicking personally" in court and that you are still not found guilty of contempt. court. Between that and a neck so thick that it has its own section in its Wikipedia, place it immediately in the Hall of Fame.
While all this was going on, the central figure of the case tried to buy the Rams.
In 2009, while getting money from sports investors for a company he did not even own a share of, Watkins Sr. decided to do some multitasking. He was one of the nominated contenders for the purchase of the majority stake in the St. Louis Rams.
Like its previous property offers for the Minnesota Twins, the Montreal Expos, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the California Angels, the Watkins Sr. campaign to buy the Rams failed. (His credit score at the time: 699, a point close to "good".This action was eventually sold to Rams' current owner, Stan Kroenke, but not before Watkins Sr.'s arrival in the media as a potential buyer.
He got something else from the pursuit of Rams. He tried to convince a member of the Rams' former owner, the Rosenbloom family, to invest in his energy company in 2010. Watkins Sr. went so far as to say by the continued in internal emails that a partnership with the Rosenbloom was virtually complete. deal – the opposite of what a family member said during a sworn testimony in the case in February 2019.
The defendants sold shares in an energy company that they never owned.
Watkins Sr. was a reputable lawyer when he offered to buy half of the shares of Masada Resource Group from co-founder Terry Johnson in 2007. Watkins Sr. and Johnson agreed in principle that Watkins Sr. was buying 3, $ 2 million of Johnson's stock, which made Watkins Sr. the owner of 50 percent of the company.
As CEO of a promising biofuels company, Watkins Sr. immediately began soliciting investors for funding. He did not mention that he missed the deadline to buy his own shares.
Instead of pushing Watkins Sr. to pay, Masada's co-founder, Johnson, has simply changed the deadline six times, including the last addendum to their agreement, in 2017. In court in 2019, Johnson said that, Having never received payment for the shares, Watkins Sr. never even really owned the shares of the company that he was selling.
Masada Resource Group has not built a power plant so far, including one that it was due to build in Sierra Leone in partnership with former NFL player Gibril Wilson. Wilson then tried to build the power plant with other partners, while Watkins Sr. attributed this failure to, among other factors, an Ebola outbreak.
Watkins Sr. has done a lot of trouble to seduce investors.
To attract investors, Watkins Sr. mentioned the former owners of the Rams. He went much, much further than that, however. Watkins Sr. also told them that Condoleeza Rice would sit on the company's board of directors and work with them. Rice did not join the board of directors and testified that she had never seriously considered working for the company, in any capacity whatsoever.
Watkins Sr. also contacted investors to tell them that Martin Luther King III would pressure President Barack Obama to Camp David on behalf of the company. King testified that it was not promised and that it would not happen.
The company, which reportedly earned billions to potential investors, did not even have a bank account.
We are now entering Masada's financial records and explain how Watkins used credit cards with the company. According to Mr. Watkins, Masada already had a bank account, but he closed it early. (That's right, a company supposedly worth between $ 1.5 and $ 2 billion did not have a bank account.)
– Kyle Whitmire (@WarOnDumb) March 6, 2019
Watkins Sr. is represented himself. He cross-examined Watkins Sr., himself known, in court.
It was not as embarrassing as it could have been.
Before becoming involved in a bioenergetic scam of professional athletes because he was overexploited financially, Watkins Sr. was an accomplished lawyer. Among his experiences, he notably defended former Birmingham mayor, Richard Arrington, Jr. against charges of corruption and corruption, and represented Auburn's advocate, Eric Ramsey, in the case who helped the resignation of Auburn's football coach, Pat Dye, in 1992. *.
* Of course, there is a connection with the SEC football scandal here. This is necessary in all major court cases in Alabama.
Watkins Sr. has also successfully defended former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy against 85 counts of fraud and Sarbanes-Oxley law violations regarding his oversight of the company. Watkins. The website of Sr. summarizes its success in this case:
No white collar criminal accused before or since the Scrushy case has dismissed 85 crime charges in an individual case.
It looks like a lot of crimes! The Watkins Sr. website also contains complimentary summaries of the activities of the Masada Resource Group. He discusses everything from the conditions of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society to the unfair and dishonest reports of AL.com, to his very positive critique of the animated film. Spirit: the Cimarron stallion.
In any case, yes, he represented himself.
He played well for a representative, although he was cautioned to avoid manipulating the jury after going up the elevator with jurors several times during the trial.
Another problem related to Watkins Sr.'s performance as Watkins Sr.'s attorney is the outcome of the lawsuit.
Watkins Sr. was convicted of the 10 charges against him.
On March 8, after a day of deliberation, the jury found Watkins Sr. guilty and found him guilty of seven counts of telegraphic fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of "conspiracy of wire fraud and bank fraud linked to a conspiracy ". . "His son, who also represented himself, was found guilty of two counts and acquitted of the charges against him.
Watkins Sr. thanked his followers on his website after his conviction. He has also done more than hint that the Masada case is a persecution for his support of civil rights cases and other unpopular causes among those in power.
In my case, my plea for transparency and accountability in government and respect for humanity has been a murder of a character that can go as far as imprisonment. My visit in 2012 to the small prison cell of Robbins Island, South Africa, where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his isolated life, prepared me psychologically at that time.
Watkins Sr.'s award will take place on July 16, 2019. Investors in this case will not recover any of their investments with Watkins because they have long gone. Charles Barkley, by far the biggest investor among athletes, has lost more than $ 6 million.
Barkley has not commented on the verdict yet. In his 2017 testimony in the case, Barkley firstly went to great lengths to not denigrate anyone who took him millions. He says Watkins is a friend and a trusted person. Barkley declares that he just wants to finish with this and continue his life, and that all this is wasting time.
Still, after repeated reminders of the SEC's findings in this case – like emails exchanged between Donald Watkins, Sr. and Jr., saying that they needed more money to pay their bills, Barkley is found in the same place as everyone who gave Watkins, Sr. Money.
"So you consider him a friend?", Asked Watkins' lawyer.
"It's a busy question right now," said Barkley.