March 12, 2009
The Charlottesville man accused of stealing millions of dollars from as many as 31 investors wants more time to get his case together.
John Donnelly is accused of swindling investors out of $11 million. He wrapped up his first court appearance late Thursday morning. The judge allowed Donnelly's preliminary hearing to be pushed back until next Thursday.
Donnelly's attorney says because the case unfolded so fast Wednesday, both he and federal prosecutors need more time. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint accusing Donnelly of scamming investors out of $11 million over the past decade. They say he operated a Ponzi scheme out of three Charlottesville-based businesses where he allegedly took money from new investors to pay existing ones.
Investigators also say he skimmed off about $1 million of those funds to pay himself. Donnelly's wife Deb sat behind him in court. She seemed tense but supportive, as she blew her husband a kiss as he sat down to face the judge.
Donnelly still has not been formally charged in the case. The judge will decide if there's probable cause to do that at next week's hearing.