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Indictment: Durham looted Fair Finance

IBJ Staff
December 24, 2011
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Indianapolis financier Tim Durham was indicted on wire and securities fraud charges in March—the culmination of a federal probe that began in 2009.

Prosecutors say that after buying Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance Co. in 2001, Durham and fellow Indianapolis businessman Jim Cochran raided its coffers to fund a lavish lifestyle as well as a host of money-losing businesses they controlled.

One example from the felony indictment: In early 2008, when Fair’s finances were dire, Durham pulled out $150,000 for a gambling spree.

Authorities say Durham and Cochran pulled money out with such abandon that they left Fair without the means to repay the Ohio investors who had purchased unsecured investment certificates. More than 5,200 investors are owed more than $230 million.

Also indicted was Rick Snow, who was Fair’s chief financial officer. He is accused of participating in the fraud, but unlike Durham and Cochran he isn’t accused of taking out millions of dollars in insider loans he lacked the means to repay.

Durham, Cochran and Snow deny wrongdoing.

Fair shut down following an FBI raid in November 2009. The raid occurred about a month after IBJ published a story highlighting the massive insider loans and questioning whether the company could repay investors.

Durham is on house arrest while he awaits his trial, which is scheduled for June 2012.

Fair Finance’s bankruptcy trustee, Brian Bash, for nearly two years has been trying to scrounge up assets to reduce investors’ losses. As part of that effort, he has reached settlements with seven Indiana politicians or campaign committees that received donations from Durham, who had been one of the biggest supporters of GOP candidates in the state.

In the largest deal to date, former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi and his campaign committee in November agreed to return nearly $200,000.

The trustee contends the political donations were fraudulent transfers because they were made when Durham and his companies were insolvent.•

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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