Legal Issues and Investment Losses and Banking & Finance and Investing and Securities fraud and Obsidian Enterprises and Tim Durham and Law

Fair trustee issues subpoena for Brightpoint CEO

July 14, 2011

The Fair Finance bankruptcy trustee has subpoenaed Brightpoint Inc. CEO Robert J. Laikin as it tries to recover more than $19 million that Laikin's brother borrowed from the Ohio company.

Trustee Brian A. Bash revealed the subpoena in a July 12 update on his efforts to recover some of the more than $200 million Fair Finance owes to 5,200 Ohio investors. Bash also noted that he has filed a complaint against National Lampoon Inc., seeking the reversal of $9 million in "fraudulent transfers" and the appointment of a receiver over the Los Angeles company.

Fair Finance had been run by Indianapolis businessman Timothy A. Durham as part of what law enforcement officials have called the largest corporate fraud case in Indiana's history. Durham and two partners were arrested in March and charged with 12 felony counts.

Attorneys for the Fair Finance trustee asked Robert Laikin to turn over any documents relating to investments, loans or other transactions made by his brother, Daniel S. Laikin, a friend of Durham's and the former CEO of National Lampoon. The subpoena was served June 28.

Dave Hensel, Robert Laikin's attorney and a partner at locally based Pence Hensel, said his client has responded to the subpoena and does not have any such documents. Hensel said it's up to the trustee whether to continue to pursue the matter.

Joseph Esmont, an attorney at the trustee's law firm, Baker & Hostetler in Cleveland, said he could not discuss the subpoena.

The trustee in April 2010 sued Dan Laikin, a former director of Akron, Ohio-based Fair, alleging he was among the largest recipients of the insider loans that “utterly looted” the business. The suit says Laikin owes more than $19 million.

Collecting anywhere near that sum will be tough. Daniel Laikin lost millions when National Lampoon cratered, and he’s now serving a 45-month prison sentence for trying to manipulate the company’s stock price.

Durham is acting CEO of National Lampoon. The company's shares, listed on the pink sheets, traded at 2 cents per share on Thursday.

Bash, the Fair Finance trustee, also said in his July 12 update that he has settled lawsuits with the Marion County Republican Central Committee, Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Commitee and the Committee to Elect Paul Ricketts. The trustee had sued the political groups in a bid to recover contributions from Durham.

Bash also intends to negotiate the sale of Bristol, Ind.-based United Trailers, the last operating subsidiary of Obsidian Capital, Durham's holding company.

An attorney for Durham, John Tompkins of locally based Brown Tompkins Lory & Mastrian, appeared in federal court Thursday to respond to an order granting a request by The Indianapolis Star to unseal certain portions of Durham's financial records.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted a continuance, giving Tompkins until July 21 to turn over the documents.

"[Durham] is doing as well as you could expect," Tompkins said after the hearing. "He is still responsible for day-to-day operations of National Lampoon. He's still on the job as much as he can with the restrictions he's under."

More of IBJ's coverage of Tim Durham and Fair Finance can be found here.

Reporter Scott Olson contributed to this story.

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