IBJNews

Lampoon: Durham used $1M from company to pay attorney

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Comedy film producer National Lampoon Inc. is suing Indianapolis financier Tim Durham for allegedly transferring $1 million from the company to his defense attorney.

Durham, the former CEO of National Lampoon, was sentenced in November to 50 years in federal prison on securities fraud and other crimes related to the collapse of Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance Co.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in a state court in Los Angeles, where National Lampoon is headquartered, follows a similar allegation made in January by the bankruptcy trustee for Fair Finance.

National Lampoon has also sued Indianapolis attorney John Tompkins, who represented Durham unsuccessfully in the Fair Finance case, and unknown individuals it says helped make the wire transfer possible.

National Lampoon claims that one week after agreeing to a settlement with Warner Bros. over the distribution of the National Lampoon’s "Vacation" series of  movies—a deal that paid National Lampoon $2.7 million—Durham transferred $1 million of that money into the bank account of Tompkins’ Indianapolis law firm, Brown Tompkins Lory & Mastrian.

The lawsuit also claims that Tompkins was listed as the beneficiary of that transfer, which allegedly occurred on July 28, 2011. Durham covered his tracks, the lawsuit alleges, with "false, fraudulent and deceptive entries in the business records of National Lampoon." The company claims it did not discover the $1 million transfer until April 2012.

Durham resigned as CEO of National Lampoon in January 2012 after leading the company for three years.

A call to Tompkins Monday morning was not immediately returned. In January, when Fair Finance trustree Brian Bash claimed that National Lampoon had financed Durham’s defense, Tompkins gave a brief statement to IBJ.

"I don’t think it’s accurate that Lampoon funded his defense,” he said on Jan. 23. “Beyond that, I don’t have anything to say."

Tompkins is no longer representing Durham. Instead, James H. Mutchnik, a white-collar criminal defense attorney at Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis, has agreed to represent Durham for free during an appeal of his conviction.

Bash has claimed in a lawsuit against National Lampoon that Durham propped up the company by transferring $9 million, over the course of a decade, from investors’ holdings at Fair Finance.

A federal jury in June found Durham guilty on all 12 counts stemming from the collapse of Fair. Prosecutors charged that Durham looted the company to fund a lavish lifestyle and support other failing businesses he owned.

Fair co-owner Jim Cochran, who was convicted on eight of 12 counts, received a 25-year sentence, and Rick Snow, the chief financial officer, received 10 years.

Money for the scheme came from 5,000 Ohio investors who purchased unsecured notes from Fair boasting interest rates as high as 9 percent.

Bash has been trying to recover money for the investors for nearly three years, but so far has been unable to make a distribution.

Bash sued Fair for more than $150 million and wrested a proposed $3.55 million settlement from former owner Donald Fair.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Snitch
    Nice comment just shows you have no idea what you are talking about. The trustee in Ohio is trying to recover money and has nothing to do with the conviction. You probably think he is innocent as well. Keep drinking the punch
  • Lawyer
    Please take the money back.....Didnt appear he earned a thing. NO defense whatso ever. Did this guy even get a law degree
  • Jeff Osler
    For those of you that are wondering why Jeff Osler is not being indited is because he spent 3 days in Ohio turning state evidence against his brother-in-law better known as Tim Durham in order keep his looser butt out of jail. But what I don't understand is how Henri Najem has been kept out of jail or at least have to return the millions that he received from Tim. Is that why Bella Vita changed it's name?
    • What about the rest of the money?
      OK, he took $1M from Lampoon. Where's the rest that's missing. Only an idiot could have lost hundreds of millions without a trace! I don't know if even he is that stupid. The trustee doesn't seem to be asking how Tim's family is paying their bills. Why isn't Geist Sports Academy foreclosed? Why isn't Jeff Osler in jail? Has anyone noticed that Tim's father disappeared without a trace just before Tim was arrested? Has anyone noticed that the money disappeared without a trace too?
      • Timmy
        Tim? Stealing? No Way! We all know that Tim would never steal anything! Just ask the legions of business execs in Indy that he stole from/tried to steal from. It is nice that this Tompkins loser is going to get some of those legal fees yanked from under him. They should pay him paralegal wages for the crap job he did defending his client, the honest and noble Tim Durham! LOL talk about poetic justice! I wonder how Brizzi will pay for his defense when he finally goes down. Perhaps Page and Bales will give him a loan. Oh wait, Bales might be pretty angry at Carl for all that heat he brought on him which took him all the way into a federal indictment. God these guys are sorry excuses for crooks. All they wanted was to be big shots. Congrats guys, you're famous and everybody knows who you are now! Isn't that just great?
      • Thompkins
        So this guy takes $1MM that you have to believe he knew was dirty, does a crappy job of defending his client, and then bails on the appeal because his client is out of allegedly ill-gotten booty with which to pay him. Nice.
      • Uh Oh
        This is gonna look GREAT at his appeal hearing!!!! HaHa, embezzling another public company's money for your fraud case. Genius! Didn't he originally say that his father-in-law was paying his lawyer fee? UH OH!
      • The Beat Goes On
        Is anyone really surprised that Dunham would pull such a stunt. National Lampoon should have known something was up long before April if the transaction occurred 11 months prior????
      • Geeeesh...
        Shady all the way up until the end!!! Figures, lol

        Post a comment to this story

        COMMENTS POLICY
        We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
         
        You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
         
        Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
         
        No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
         
        We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
         

        Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

        Sponsored by
        ADVERTISEMENT

        facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
        Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
         
        Subscribe to IBJ
        1. Angela IS the best RD

        2. We are a nation of speed. All of our younger lives are filled with deadlines, quotas and bottom lines. We start to ease out of the pressured rat-race when we finally see "retirement." The most enjoyable travel on the planet is passenger rail service. Indy to Chicago does not beat Megabus or Southwest Airlines in speed. Passenger rail however has the best seating, mammoth legroon, seat backs that recline to more than 45 degrees and employers that really want you to return as a customer. Indiana municipalities need to maintain subsidies to support this transportation mode. Losing it is loss for all of us.

        3. Good day! I just want to testify how i got my loan from Mr. Eric Lefkofsky after i applied several times from various loan lenders who claimed to also testify right in this forum,i thought the testimonies where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan. Until a friend of mine introduce me to this popular Mr. Eric Lefkofsky who promised to help me and indeed he did as he promised without any form of delay. I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr. Eric lefkofsky who indeed helped me with the loan and changed my belief. I promised to share this testimony after I got my loan. I don't know if you are in any way in need of a genuine and urgent loan,free feel to contact Mr. Eric Lefkofsky via their email{grouponfunding@hotmail.com}

        4. Its a THUG issue. Bleecker Street and NYX are thug bars. They attract thugs of all races. Places that attract thugs need to be kicked out of Broad Ripple. Ain't nobody got time for that!

        5. Hello everyone, My name is Marian Gareth, I am from the Texas, United State, am here to testify of how i got my loan from Mr Andre Frank {frankloancompany@yahoo.com} after i applied Two times from various loan lenders who claimed to be lenders right in this forum,i thought their lending where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan.Until a friend of mine introduce me to Mr Andre Frank the C.E.O of Andre Frank Loan Company who promised to help me with a loan of my desire and he really did as he promised without any form of delay, I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr Andre Frank, who really help me with my loan and changed my lief for better. I don't know if you are in need of an urgent loan, free feel to contact Mr Andre Frank on his email{ Frankloancompany@yahoo.com} for help

        ADVERTISEMENT