Donald V. Watkins
My Case is Ready for Appeal
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on July 16, 2019
This afternoon, we finished the sentencing phase of my criminal trial. The prosecution requested a sentence of 210 months, or 17.5 years in prison. The trial judge sentenced me to 60 months. My son received a sentence of 27 months.
My case presents several threshold questions of law that are ripe for an appeal. These are questions of first impression in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit:
1. Whether an executed purchase contract that was negotiated at arms-length between sophisticated business parties who were represented by financial and legal professionals is subject to a prosecutorial override 10 to 12 years later solely because the purchasers’ refreshed recollection of the nature and scope of the commercial transaction differs from the written purchase agreement they signed?
2. Whether introductory emails between Charles Barkley and me regarding three loan transactions trump (a) the plain language of the promissory notes that were specifically approved by the lender’s financial advisor and (b) the authorized uses of proceeds that are specified in the applicable corporate operating agreements that govern the business relationship?
3. Whether a bank fraud conviction can be sustained in a case where I, as a bank “insider,” complied with the plain language of a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation regulatory provision that expressly permitted a loan transaction by a business partner (Dr. Richard Arrington, Jr.) in a "bona fide transaction" where the loan proceeds were used to acquire “goods”, “services,” and “property” from the insider?
The background facts for these questions are set for the in “Why I Must Fight,” which was published on March 15, 2019.
I am reporting on the sentencing phase of my case because The Birmingham News’ coverage historically portrays civil rights activists like me in the most negative light possible. This is a time-honored tradition at the News that started with its willing participation in J. Edgar Hoover’s infamous COINTELPRO program in the 1950s.
I want to especially thank Olayinka O. Arowolo and Jessica A. Findley for volunteering to tell the truth about the status of my international businesses in their sworn Declarations, which were exhibits to my Sentencing Memorandum. Both of these entrepreneurs are pioneers in their areas of operation and highly respected within the energy services industry. Olayinka’s Declaration is Exhibit A to my Sentencing Memorandum. Jessica’s is Exhibit E to my Memorandum.
To this day, the Government has never questioned the legitimacy of Nabirm Energy Services (Pty) Ltd., an oil and gas energy services company based in Windhoek, Namibia, or Masada Resource Group, LLC, a waste-to-energy technology company. Each company works every day to successfully implement its business plan.
This case is a long way from being over. We will now turn our attention to prosecuting our appeals from the guilty verdicts. As an experienced litigator, I feel very good about our chances on appeal. In the end, justice is not a sprint; it is a marathon.
I sincerely thank my readers for understanding the larger issues in my case and for supporting me throughout this ordeal.
PHOTO: Donald V. Watkins is ready to appeal his case.