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Tim Durham closes New Castle restaurant

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Embattled Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham this week closed his downtown New Castle restaurant, Durhams Ristorante, after about two years of operation.

A sign on the restaurant door says “closed until further notice.” The restaurant’s kitchen manager told the New Castle Courier Times it shut down because of financial problems.

Durham teamed with local restaurateur Henri Najem to open the moderately priced Italian eatery. It originally operated as Bella Vita, but Durham changed the name after he and Najem, who operates Bella Vita restaurants in Geist and downtown Indianapolis, parted ways early last year.

Durham’s businesses have been in a tailspin since last fall, when FBI agents raided his Chase Tower offices and the offices of Fair Finance Co., an Akron, Ohio,  consumer-loan firm he co-owns.

The raids occurred one month after IBJ published an investigative story that raised questions about whether Fair had the financial wherewithal to repay Ohio investors who purchased more than $200 million in unsecured investment certificates.

The story reported that, since Durham bought Fair in 2002, he had used it almost like a personal bank to fund a range of business interests, many of them unsuccessful, and to support a lavish lifestyle. The story noted that he and related parties owe Fair more than $168 million. (For more Durham coverage, click here.)

Fair never reopened after the raids, and creditors forced it into bankruptcy early this year. Bankruptcy attorneys expect Fair investors who purchased certificates—a largely blue-collar, elderly lot—to recover only a small fraction of what they’re owed.

Durham, 48, has acknowledged he owes Fair a bundle but has denied doing anything wrong. In court papers, he said the offering circulars provided to prospective investors outlined the risks, including that they carried no government guarantee.

He’s turned over to the bankruptcy trustee more than two dozen cars, as well as expensive pieces of art. The assets will be auctioned, with proceeds going to certificate purchasers.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Indianapolis is overseeing an ongoing criminal investigation of Durham. Officials won't comment. But in court papers filed in November, they allege Fair operated as a Ponzi scheme, using money from new investors to pay off prior purchasers of investment certificates.

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  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

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