Colvin sentenced to 29 months in Comcast case

By By Suzanne Monk / managing editor
March 9, 2002
More than five years have passed since an anonymous letter was received by Comcast officials at their headquarters in Pennsylvania.
More than five years since Comcast-Primestar regional manager David Van Colvin was accused of stealing money from the company. Since Comcast sent accountants to Meridian to conduct an internal audit.
The audit resulted in federal indictments against Colvin and four Meridian business people prosecutors said defrauded the cable company of $2.6 million between 1994 and 1996.
The final scene in the story was played out in U.S. District Court on Friday, as Judge Henry Wingate sentenced Colvin to 29 months for masterminding the scheme.
Setting the stage
Few people attended the hearing. Glenn Colvin was there, as well as a young man who sat with him but would not identify himself to reporters.
It was a contrast from a month ago, when the small spectator section was full of family members and friends at the sentencing of C.D. "Bubba" Newell and Kim Gianakos two of Colvin's four co-defendants convicted in Meridian last April.
Two other co-defendants were acquitted.
Friday's hearing stuttered right away, when the judge learned that Colvin had not read a pre-sentence investigation report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office. Wingate called a 15-minute recess while Colvin read the report.
The small man hunched over the papers with his lawyer seemed an unlikely candidate for the "man in the middle" of the conspiracy alleged by federal prosecutors. Colvin pleaded guilty in March 1999 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and two counts of income tax evasion.
He also agreed to testify against the other people indicted in exchange for sentencing consideration.
Based on a complicated set of federal sentencing guidelines, Colvin could have received a prison term of anywhere between 27 months and 33 months.
Newell, convicted of all 16 counts against him including 12 counts of money-laundering was sentenced in January to 57 months. Gianakos, acquitted of two conspiracy counts but convicted of one count of mail fraud, was sentenced to 18 months.
Defense asks for reduction
Attorney Cynthia Stewart of Jackson asked for a further reduction of Colvin's sentence based on several factors: 1) his health; 2) his degree of co-operation at the trial of his co-defendants; and 3) his co-operation with Comcast lawyers in a related civil trial.
Colvin told Judge Wingate he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in the late 1990s, but that his condition is currently in remission. He said he is tested every three months for signs of recurrence.
The judge asked for clarification, noting that the results of psychological and medical tests in Colvin's case file indicate that he has never had multiple sclerosis but only feared he might develop the disease.
Colvin also said he had been diagnosed with lupus.
Judge imposes sentence
Assistant U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain said Colvin's sentence was already minimized by the fact that he was not required, as a part of his plea agreement, to plead guilty to money-laundering a charge that carries the stiffest penalties of any alleged in the conspiracy.
Newell, for example, was convicted of 12 counts of money-laundering and received by far the longest sentence, 57 months.
Brittain acknowledged that part of the government's agreement with Colvin was that he would be sentenced in the bottom 25 percent of his sentencing range of 27 months to 33 months.
The judge agreed with Brittain.
Before being sentenced, Colvin apologized to his family, friends and co-workers, the Meridian community and the U.S. government.
He was sentenced to 29 months. In addition to the jail time, Colvin will be required to help Newell and Gianakos repay almost $1.5 million to Comcast.
Colvin will be allowed to report voluntarily to a federal prison on April 22. He asked to serve his sentence at a facility in Pensacola, Fla. With time off for good behavior, Colvin could be free by early 2004.
Both Newell and Gianakos are appealing their convictions.

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