Prosecution rests after testimony from Fair Finance trustee

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The government rested its fraud case against Tim Durham and two co-defendants Monday afternoon after pointing out just how little was left for investors in Fair Finance after an alleged Ponzi scheme.

Brian Bash, the man charged with recovering money for investors in the Ohio consumer-loan company, testified that his team has managed to recover just $5.6 million of more than $215 million in investor losses.

Bash, Fair's Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee, was the final government witness and followed testimony from victims, accountants and former employees of Durham and co-defendants Jim Cochran and Rick Snow.

The trial began June 11. The defense is expected to call its first witness Tuesday morning and finish by the afternoon. Final arguments are expected late Tuesday afternoon, and the case likely will go to the jury Wednesday.

Bash said recovering funds for Fair investors has been difficult. He said he's managed to collect just $518,000 of the roughly $200 million in related-party loans Fair made to Durham, Cochran and related companies.

Under cross examination by Durham defense attorney John Tompkins, Bash acknowledged it is his "hope and belief" he'll be able to recover much more.

Tompkins also questioned Bash on a contingency-fee arrangement the trustee has requested that would pay his firm 30 percent of any recovery up to $50 million, 15 percent of anything between $50 million and $100 million, and 10 percent of anything over $100 million.

Moments before his testimony, Tompkins asked Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson to disqualify Bash for discussing the case over lunch with his attorney.

Tompkins called his own wife to the stand, who said she had heard Bash and attorney Kelly Burgan discussing the case at Paradise Cafe and Bakery.

Witnesses expected to testify aren’t permitted to interact with other witnesses or get updates on the testimony of others before they are questioned. Burgan has attended the entire trial.

Both Burgan and Bash said their discussion followed the court's order. The judge agreed, allowing Bash to testify.

Durham, Cochran and Snow, Fair's chief financial officer, are facing 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud. The government alleges they bilked more than 5,000 Ohio investors out of $215 million by turning Fair into a Ponzi scheme. If convicted, they face decades in prison.

For all of IBJ's coverage of Fair Finance and Durham, click here.

The prosecution has based a good portion of its case on a series of government-recorded phone calls between Cochran and Durham. In a wiretap from Nov. 19, 2009, introduced as government evidence last week, Cochran and Durham briefly discuss the possibility that they could serve jail time. The recording appears below.

To hear audio from several other wiretaps between Durham and Cochran, click here.


  • Grasping at straws
    You're right, the coincidence of John Tompkins' wife being within earshot is a stretch, however even with that they're grasping at straws. Not much defense for what's gone one, gotta raise every question mark in the jury's mind that you can. This one might have backfired, though. Wonder how long the jury will have to stay out on this? Seems as if it should be a quick turnaround on most counts.
  • Re
    Maybe the judge should subpoena John's text and call records as well as those of his wife and see if she just happened to be coincidentally at the restaurant or if she followed them there--after all, how would she know what they look like? And she just happened to be sitting next to them? Kind of like Tomkins just happened to allegedly drive over to Ohio and have a meeting with Beverly Keller of the Budget Newspaper, the Bible for the Amish community and allegedly tell her that Timmy wasn't trying to get another $250M but only $600k! OMG, only in Indy....

    Post a comment to this story

    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

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. Hiking blocks to an office after fighting traffic is not logical. Having office buildings around the loop, 465 and in cities in surrounding counties is logical. In other words, counties around Indianapolis need office buildings like Keystone, Meridian, Michigan Road/College Park and then no need to go downtown. Financial, legal, professional businesses don't need the downtown when Carmel, Fishers, North Indy are building their own central office buildings close to the professionals. The more Hamilton, Boone county attract professionals, the less downtown is relevant. Highrises have no meaning if they don't have adequate parking for professionals and clients. Great for show, but not exactly downtown Chicago, no lakefront, no river to speak of, and no view from highrises of lake Michigan and the magnificent mile. Indianapolis has no view.

    2. "The car count, THE SERIES, THE RACING, THE RATINGS, THE ATTENDANCE< AND THE MANAGEMENT, EVERY season is sub-par." ______________ You're welcome!

    3. that it actually looked a lot like Sato v Franchitti @Houston. And judging from Dario's marble mouthed presentation providing "color", I'd say that he still suffers from his Dallara inflicted head injury._______Considering that the Formula E cars weren't going that quickly at that exact moment, that was impressive air time. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, as Dallara is the only car builder that needs an FAA certification for their cars. But flying Dallaras aren't new. Just ask Dan Wheldon.

    4. Does anyone know how and where I can get involved and included?

    5. While the data supporting the success of educating our preschoolers is significant, the method of reaching this age group should be multi-faceted. Getting business involved in support of early childhood education is needed. But the ways for businesses to be involved are not just giving money to programs and services. Corporations and businesses educating their own workforce in the importance of sending a child to kindergarten prepared to learn is an alternative way that needs to be addressed. Helping parents prepare their children for school and be involved is a proven method for success. However, many parents are not sure how to help their children. The public is often led to think that preschool education happens only in schools, daycare, or learning centers but parents and other family members along with pediatricians, librarians, museums, etc. are valuable resources in educating our youngsters. When parents are informed through work lunch hour workshops in educating a young child, website exposure to exceptional teaching ideas that illustrate how to encourage learning for fun, media input, and directed community focus on early childhood that is when a difference will be seen. As a society we all need to look outside the normal paths of educating and reaching preschoolers. It is when methods of involving the most important adult in a child's life - a parent, that real success in educating our future workers will occur. The website www.ifnotyouwho.org is free and illustrates activities that are research-based, easy to follow and fun! Businesses should be encouraging their workers to tackle this issue and this website makes it easy for parents to be involved. The focus of preschool education should be to inspire all the adults in a preschooler's life to be aware of what they can do to prepare a child for their future life. Fortunately we now know best practices to prepare a child for a successful start to school. Is the business community ready to be involved in educating preschoolers when it becomes more than a donation but a challenge to their own workers?