Former ASU trustee on trial for wire, bank fraud

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The federal fraud trial for former Alabama State University Trustee Donald Watkins, Sr., 70,  and his son, Donald Watkins, Jr., 46, began Feb. 20 with testimony from two NFL players, Condoleezza Rice, Martin Luther King III, the ex-brother-in-law of former Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom took the stand and sports stars Charles Barkley and Bryan Thomas and a revelation from a prosecutor that former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington Jr. has immunity to testify in the case.
Both Watkins are each charged with seven counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud relating to a conspiracy the government claims lasted for nearly a decade. They were indicted in November.
According to the indictment, from 2007 until at least 2014, the two defendants induced investors to pay millions of dollars into a bank account controlled by Donald Watkins Sr. by telling the investors that their money would be used for specific purposes related to the international growth of two companies associated with the defendants. Instead of using the money for those purposes, the indictment states, the two men redirected the funds for other uses, including the payment of personal tax obligations, personal loan payments, alimony, and clothing.
U.S. District Judge Karon O Bowdre’s allowed the joint trial but jurors were instructed to decide their cases separately. Both Watkins men are representing themselves.
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lloyd Peeples, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Borton, Xavier Carter, and Kyle Hankey are prosecuting the case.