By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published on March 9, 2019
Yesterday, a federal jury in Birmingham, Alabama convicted me on all ten counts of conspiracy, bank fraud, and wire fraud charges following a three-week trial. The jury also convicted my son, Donald, Jr., of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud. Our sentencing is scheduled for July 16, 2019.
Throughout this ordeal, we have felt a tremendous outpouring of love and respect from our friends and supporters. For this, we are deeply appreciative.
As a lawyer who has tried cases for 46 years, I have the highest regard for the jury system in civil and criminal trials. However, I disagree with the jury’s verdict in this case.
One day I will be able to tell the full story of what really happened in this case, but this is not the time or place to do it.
This ordeal provided me with a meaningful opportunity to learn who my true friends are. It also exposed the host of “sunshine” friends who have occupied so much of my time and energy in life. As a result, I no longer have to waste time nurturing my “sunshine” friendships.
Two of my true friends saw me under fire in this trial and came to my aid by serving as defense witnesses. They are Ralph Malone, a member of the Georgia Tech Hall of Fame for Engineering and a vice president at Masada Resource Group, LLC, and David Minkin, an Atlanta “Super Lawyer” who serves as Masada’s General Counsel. I shall never forget their loyalty, bravery, and courage when it counted the most.
My former wife, DeAndra Watkins, did the same thing. Her love for my son and me was tested during this ordeal and it was unwavering. She, too, was a defense witness. Thank you, DeAndra! You have so much class and character.
I also want to publicly thank my siblings, children, extended family members, girlfriend, and thousands of devoted supporters for helping us get through this ordeal with your daily acts of kindness and constant prayers. You gave us the strength to endure a very difficult experience.
We are strong because of you. We feel your love. You know the true portrait of who we are and what we stand for.
My spirit is not broken. I have always known that the privilege of standing up for those who have no voice in society comes with a heavy price. I have always been willing to pay this price. Sometimes this price is a physical assassination, as was the case with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sometimes it is character assassination and imprisonment as a means to silence our voices.
In my case, the cost of my advocacy for transparency and accountability in government and respect for humanity has been character assassination and may include imprisonment. My visit in 2012 to the small prison cell on Robben Island in South Africa where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years of his life in isolation has prepared me psychologically for this moment.
My haters and adversaries have labeled me as a “con artist” and “criminal.” Those who have been uplifted during my 46-year legal career have labeled me as a “freedom fighter.” I label myself as a man who truly cares about the “least of these.”
Finally, “truth” is a destination. The journey towards truth in my criminal case has begun. It will be a long and difficult one, but we will eventually reach our destination.
Stay strong and remain committed to the cause of truth and justice. My son and I will be okay. God has never left our side.
PHOTO: Donald V. Watkins, Sr. and Donald V. Watkins, Jr.