Brizzi dropped plan to serve on board of Durham company

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Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi said he agreed this fall to serve on the board of Tim Durham’s Fair Finance Co., but changed his mind several weeks later after Durham told him a newspaper was working on an investigative story about the company.

“The whole point of being on the board was to get an education on how this stuff works,” Brizzi said Tuesday morning, several hours before FBI agents conducted a surprise raid on Fair’s Akron headquarters and the headquarters of Obsidian Enterprises, Durham’s Indianapolis-based leveraged-buyout firm.

“It seems from the article you wrote that it is more complicated than I have time for right now. So I decided against it.”

Brizzi said that Durham told him, “This stuff is going on. You probably don’t need to be in the middle of all this.”

The investigative story, published in IBJ Oct. 26, raised questions about whether Fair Finance had the financial wherewithal to repay Ohio investors who had purchased nearly $200 million in investment certificates.

The story reported that, since Durham bought the consumer-loan business in 2002, he had used it almost like a personal bank to fund a range of business interests, some of them unsuccessful. The story noted that he and related parties owe Fair more than $168 million.

Michael S. Welch, FBI special agent in charge in Indianapolis, said the agents who converged on the companies were executing search warrants. But he said those warrants are sealed and that the FBI would not provide additional comment.

John Tompkins, an Indianapolis attorney representing Durham, said today that FBI agents questioned Durham yesterday at the Los Angeles offices of National Lampoon Inc., one of several companies he leads. Tompkins would not reveal what the agents discussed.

“I will say generally that he is cooperative and will continue to be cooperative,” Tompkins said. He added that Durham believes he has done nothing wrong.

A proposed securities offering that Fair filed with the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Securities on Oct. 29 says Brizzi “was elected” a director in 2009. However, Brizzi said he didn’t think he actually became a board member. And if he did, Brizzi said, it was only for a few weeks, and he did not attend a board meeting or take any official action.

Brizzi said he agreed to serve on the board because he was interested in learning more about finance from Durham, whom he described as “a buddy.” Durham also has been a major campaign contributor to Brizzi, who is in his second term as prosecutor. Campaign finance records show that Durham and his companies have donated more than $200,000 to Brizzi campaigns.

Brizzi, a Republican, would have served as one of Fair’s independent directors. One of the duties of independent directors is to decide whether to approve loans to Durham and other insiders.

Brizzi acknowledged he wouldn’t have been ideal for that role.

“If you are relying on your friends to educate you along the way, you probably are not as independent as you should be,” Brizzi said.



  • Bugatti Owners
    These con artists have the need to own a Bugatti, the world's most expensive car, to flash their "success"--which is how they dupe people. Who else have we read about recently that has a Bugatti?

    Attorney Scott Rothstein's meteoric rise into the stratosphere of local politics, sports and philanthropy is suspected to have been propelled by millions of dollars handed to him by investors blinded by the glitter of a too-good-to-be-true deal.

    Geysers of cash flowed from the flamboyant lawyer, who purchased a veneer of legitimacy through millions of donations to local charities. A hospital is building a lobby dedicated to his family; a Chabad synagogue already bears his name. Millions more went to expensive acquisitions suitable for a Middle East potentate.

    The smooth-talking lawyer sat at the center of an empire that included fancy restaurants, million-dollar homes, flashy cars (two $1.6 million Bugattis among them), sports sponsorships, businesses and a nonprofit foundation.

    At least the State of Florida BARRED Rothstein from serving as a lawyer anymore, and Rothstein has not been criminally convicted of anything yet.
  • Ohio Congressman concerned
  • Akron Fair Finance office emptied out
    Holy cow.

  • Carl
    Brizzi said he never voted? Let's see--the IBJ article came out on October 26th, which was a Monday, and 3 business days later on October 30th Durham's Fair Finance submitted an extensive multipage request, prepared by a lawfirm, to Ohio for yet another $250Million. Brizzi has now stated he was on the board a few weeks and quit when Greg Andrews article came out. Board approval would have been expected for such a dramtic request--another $250M for a business that did $28M last year and lost $1.8M.

  • How Long Has the FBI Known?
    It's my understanding some FBI guy who is in NJ now was told about problems involving the Laikin brothers and Tim Durham over 6 years ago.

    Does Welch plan to look into this and ask Robert Mueller why fumblers at the FBI get promotions?
  • Motsinger
    I don't know anything about Motsinger other than he seems too weak to be Sheriff--look at this video where he stands meekly by and says nothing:

  • Re
    I think the bigger question is what poor judgment has befallen a county prosecutor.

    When you decide to become a judge, or a prosecutor, or a mayor, or the governor, you have made a decision to hold yourself to a higher standard. Carl has shown that is not the case. He may or may not have allowed Durham to finance Izzi's on his behalf. He may or may not have traded on non-material information on Brightpoint and Cellstar. He may have done nothing except become boorish and act like an imbecile on the Yacht Party in the Bahamas that immediately preceeded his divorce. But, he is guilty of poor judgment in his relationship with Durham, and choosing to be a member of a board he had no business being on.

    By the way Tim Motsinger quit the campaign for Sheriff tonight. At least someone can show some shame. I certainly hope he didn't do anything stupid except hang out with Durham:

    Message from Tim Motsinger: http://www.timmotsinger.com

    In light of the recent investigations concerning the non-campaign related business affairs of my campaign finance chairman, I have made the decision that it is appropriate to return any and all financial contributions and loans that my campaign has received from him or his affiliated businesses.
  • so what
    IBJ: please show what Carl Brizzi did wrong in your weekly. What if this Fair Finance provided double digit returns? Would Carl get any credit? Probably not. Its my understanding he sat on the board for a few weeks and made no decisions. What am I missing? Durham is scum and we all know it. we could lecture Carl about associating with scumbags, but thats not what this story is about.
    • Indy Bank
      Probably got the money from his the bank he had all the access to his side real estate deals....doubt IBJ would delve into that...little too close for them to want to admit, or print
    • Indy Bank
      Probably got the money from his the bank he had all the access to his side real estate deals....doubt IBJ would delve into that...little too close for them to want to admit, or print
    • Yikes
      Carl, You are known by the company you keep. How to those fleas feel now?
    • Durham salting the Board
      The word is that Fair Finance was peddling uninsured Investment Certificates as CD's to investors promising unbelivable rates of return.
      This scheme is directly out of the "Sir" Allen Standford play book which cost investors in Stanford Company nearly $8 billion.
      Please refer to Russell's report in the Indy Star which specifically states that what Fair Finance and Durham were selling were indeed "certificates of deposit" not uninsured "investment certificates".
      Just how in the hell Ohio regulators let this scam go for so long before calling in the Feds is a complete mystery.
      Perhaps Mr. Brizzi can answer that question. Salting the Board of Directors with a Prosecutor didn't seem to pay off too well in the end did it Tim?
    • jail
      outside of business? Huh? The dude has lost money at every company hes been involved in, either its gone bankrupt or gotten a going concern letter...who knows if he will go to jail but if its true he committed an affinity crime he is total scum....where's he gonna come up with $170 Million? By ripping out the marble he had installed at his Geist mansion? By selling his cars? Maybe maybe he could scrape up $40mil. Let's be generous and double that to $80Mil. He took/"borrowed" over twice that. That's a heck of a lotta money he has to come up with and soon.
    • Fools
      Mr. Durham might be morally inept in his choices outside of business but he has done nothing wrong and neither has Brizzi. And the fool that put on here that Durham will go to jail is a complete idiot. That man (whether he did right or wrong) will never see day one in jail. As some one who has been taken to the cleaners in an investment in the 6 figure range I blame only myself as should the investors in Akron.
      • Brizzi also a fool
        Is Brizzi that dense to believe he could serve a company and its stakeholders well by becoming a director? Or was he just a good-old boy wanting an easy paycheck from his greasy buddy? This stink will remain a long time, Carl.
      • Re
        Where did Brizzi get the money to invest in Izzi's?

        $200,000. Holy smokes. How pathetic, Carl. Return the campaign money so the elderly in Ohio can sleep at night. Show us you have some shame.

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