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Fair Finance trustee renews call for return of political donations

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The trustee in the Fair Finance bankruptcy has renewed a call for recipients of political contributions from accused Ponzi schemer Tim Durham to return the tainted cash after a federal grand jury indicted Durham on 12 felony counts.

In a statement, Trustee Brian A. Bash thanked Indiana Sen. Mike Delph for doing "the right thing" and returning $10,000, and implored fellow elected officials including Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to follow suit. Daniels and Brizzi each received about $200,000 from Durham.

Bash expressed disappointment at hearing, through the media, that some of the recipients of Durham's campaign donations—including Daniels—had no plans to return the money since it was already spent.

"Such a glib response is not a defense, and it trivializes the losses suffered by the victims," Bash wrote. "We understand that the campaigns did not plan to have to return these contributions, but the victims also did not plan to be cheated."

The statement said Daniels at least responded to the trustee's request, unlike most others, and the trustee hopes "for mutual resolution through continued discussions." A spokeswoman for Daniels did not return a phone message or e-mail Monday morning.

Brizzi had not yet seen the trustee's statement when reached by email Monday. He asked what year Durham acquired Fair Finance. In response to the answer, 2002, Brizzi wrote: "I will give this further thought."

Brizzi was first elected prosecutor in 2002 and re-elected in 2006.

The trustee noted he would prefer to recover money from politicians "amicably," but would not hesitate to take legal action if necessary. He singled out Daniels, Brizzi, Lawrence Mayor Paul Ricketts, the Indiana Republican State Committee and the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee.

Marion County Republican Party Chairman Kyle Walker expressed sympathy for the victims of Fair Finance but said that Durham's roughly $50,000 in contributions to the local party have "long since been spent in good faith."

"All funds now available have been contributed by donors who wished them to be spent for the sole purpose of electing current and future candidates," Walker wrote in an email. "I feel it would be a violation of my ethical and fiduciary responsibility to those donors to spend their funds in any other manner—no matter how worthy the cause."

Besides Delph, at least one other Republican has returned Durham money. Former Republican candidate for Marion County sheriff Tim Motsinger returned all financial contributions and loans that his campaign got from Durham, who served as his campaign finance manager. He said the loss of funds made him unable to compete and withdrew from that race.

Most of Durham's political contributions went to Republicans, but former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson collected $2,000 and former U.S. Rep. Baron Hill received $5,000. Both are Democrats. Adam Kirsch, executive director of the Marion County Democratic Party, said he did not know whether they had returned the contributions.

Durham and two business partners, James Cochran and Rick Snow, were arrested March 16 after being indicted on 12 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud. They're accused of defrauding about 5,000 investors in Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance Co. of more than $200 million.

Full coverage of the Durham case can be found here.

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  • What About Ricketts?
    Mayor Ricketts of Lawrence took $80,000 from Durham for a small town mayors race. All of them Dems/Reps need to return the stolen cash.
  • bank robbery
    So the key to robbing the bank is to spend the money before you are caught and then there is no penalty. I don't buy this....the money is spent line of b.s.
  • Its Spent
    If the money is spent, its spent. Are they going to go to the retailers where Timmy bought his suits and ask for the money back or the car dealerships where he bought his cars and ask for the money? If politicians, like Daniels and the Marion County Republican Party, spent the money - its gone. That's part of loosing money
    • Balance
      Many if not all big donors cover all the bases by giving money to both Republicans and Democrats. Are Democrats going to give their money back?
    • GOP Payoff for sure
      Is it no wonder that the GOP benefited beyond reason from Durham. Is it no wonder that a GOP institution like Servas bailed the guy out of jail. How much did Servas get in his elections from Durham. How much did the GOP get total. I guess it is all pay back time.
    • re
      you'll enjoy this--Rick Snow.

      http://projects.propublica.org/recovery/item/20110101/297837
    • Others?
      What about the other donations (non-profit) Durham made since 2002? No one seems to be asking about those.
    • outrageous-
      Nice to see our Mayor's name is MISSING from the list! It's called integrity!
    • Um, Yum!
      Why should they? The reason white collar crime is so pervasive in Indianapolis is because these guys can.

      Was anyone charged on insider trading on Brightpoint and/or Cellstar? NO.

      Was Mitch Daniels charged on insider trading or self-dealing on IPL? NO. In fact, he became governor and is wealthy beyond our dreams!

      Has Carl Brizzi been charged on insider trading on Cellstar and/or Red Rock Pictures? NO. Has Carl Brizzi been charged with self-dealing or a felony conflict of interest on Elkhart? NO.

      If you want to commit a white collar crime, move to Indianapolis. The only reason Durham was charged is because the press would not let up and because a very good FBI agent team--two lone guys- in Indianapolis happens to also think you shouldn't steal peoples life savings and laugh on tv about it.

      By the way Rick Snow needs some money for legal fees. Please visit his new business, Fuzziwigs up at Hamilton Town Center. It only cost him about $340K to set up. He must just manage money better than Tim because his attorney says he is innocent and did not know as CFO that you can't pay a semblence of debt on $227M outstanding with no income coming in. But hey, give him a break and please shop at his business listed under the name of his children abbreviated as Kylex Holdings dba Fuzziwigs. When you are under stress carbs at the way to go!

      http://www.sweetsfromheaven.com/requirements.php
    • another take
      other possibilities
      1) they believe Tim & Co. will prevail (innocent until proven guilty)
      2) the allegedly defrauded investors and their sympathizers are not constituents of the recipients of the campaign $, so nothing gained by returning $.
      3) promises made in exchange for the $ contributions have already been fulfilled.

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