AUDIO: Wiretaps capture Durham, co-defendants scrambling

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A series of government-recorded phone calls have provided some of the most riveting courtroom moments during the fraud trial of Indianapolis financier Tim Durham and two co-defendants.

The government secretly recorded Durham in conversations with Fair Finance partner Jim Cochran and Chief Financial Officer Rick Snow. Together, the men stand accused of defrauding more than 5,000 investors in Ohio out of more than $200 million by running Fair Finance as a Ponzi scheme.

The profanity-laced phone conversations, introduced in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis this week as government evidence, suggest the defendants were willing to do just about anything to keep Fair afloat in its final days. The call snippets suggest their moves were not out of any particular concern for the Ohio investors who stood to lose everything, but to save themselves.

Defense attorneys say the men were acting desperately to save Fair from the global financial crisis.

Here are several highlights from calls between Durham and Cochran (Snow appears on other calls):

In this call recorded Nov. 18, 2009, Cochran explains to Durham how he persuaded an investor in Fair Finance who wanted to cash out $200,000 to take just $100,000 instead, convincing the investor he was doing him a favor.

The following recording from Nov. 24, 2009, (the day of an FBI raid on Fair Finance and another Durham-held firm) contains a conversation between Durham and Cochran about a financial shell game to make Fair's finances look better.

Also on Nov. 24, Durham explains to Cochran that he plans to sell most of the remainder of his classic car collection to raise cash. When Cochran suggests he use the money to help fund the failing Fair, Durham demurs, saying he'll keep the money unless the state of Ohio approves the sale of another round of investment certificates for Fair. In fact, money from Fair investors helped fund the purchase of those cars.

Later in the same Nov. 24 call, Durham tells Cochran that this is the "perfect time" to have Fair fail, since hundreds of banks are failing and that he and Cochran can blame the collapse on the world economy.

In a call recorded on Nov. 19, Durham and Cochran discuss how to put off clients who want to cash in their investments. Durham warns Cochran not to use a particular excuse too often, "because it's not really true."

In a call recorded on Nov. 19, Cochran and Durham briefly discuss the possibility that they could serve jail time.


Click here to catch up on all of IBJ's Tim Durham/Fair Finance coverage.


  • family guilty too
    I read the Indianapolis Monthly article from 2008, and he's bragging about his cars, lavish parties and Ludacris, while drinking his Dom Perignon in his yacht. Not to mention his art collection.Reading the story, it's almost obvious that something is going on. There's no way this guy has remorse, because he was flaunting all he was stealing in the IM interview.And our prosectuor proudly declares him as a friend. Tsk tsk, you might just have a little caution in who you associate with, Mr. Brizzi. The Servaas' --Joan and Buert--put up the million bail because once you're a part of the Servaas family, there's loyalty--whether you're a crook or not. Let's see--the prosecutor and former head of the City Council...makes you wonder the integrity of elected officials. Oh, they didn't know I guess. I saw the other news item about Durham transferring money to Joan Servaas and her two boys --not Durham's biological son--his "stepsons." $49K here and another $40K there. Something like that. Perhaps they are innocent. But the SerVaas' obviously have the money to pay back, seeing how they were able to put up the million in bail. Fact is, the rich get richer, while the little guy struggles. The SerVaas' have been investigated by the IRS, because the magazine they own --The Saturday Evening Post is non-profit. It's a "medical society." They can afford to pay real taxes just like all of us --seeing how they can put up a million to bail out a shameless scoundrel. But no, those of us who struggle to make a living pay for the rich to get richer. In the final days, the only thing Durham was scurrying to do was keep the poor investors at bay. He has no moral compass. I wonder where Ludacris is now? I hope he and his partners get the maximum sentence. A nice way to bring up your son and stepsons. Joan must think it's ok to teach your sons to defraud people, and lie and cheat. In the IM article, she said something like "he's just having fun." Makes you wonder what her sons did with the money their stepdaddy so generously transferred to them. I'll bet they just wanted to have fun!
  • No Remorse!
    I have listened to these recordings many times since they were made public. No wonder the defense tried to eliminate them from evidence! They are damning! I wanted to believe that the money was missing because of the economy, as the defense said, and not stolen and misused. There is no denying it now. This is a tragedy for everyone except the perpetrators. There will be no return of the money to the investors. I wonder when he's going to be like at sentencing? Will he keep acting like he didn't do anything. Man, they have recordings of you being smug and cocky about what you were doing! It's time to knock it off! Your life as a freeman is over. It's time to show some real class and just apologize for the parties, yachts, planes, cars, whores, bunnies, mansions, and all the other lavish things. It's time to stand and admit it! I don't expect that to happen. He didn't break down and admit it when the jury heard the tapes! What kind of idiot would think after having himself exposed on tape like that would be released under house arrest? Idiot!
  • Defense will be interesting
    They're not guilty until the jury says so, but the prosecution has presented a pretty incriminating case. Will be interesting to see what the defense has to say that could offset this! At least they can't pull the insanity defense as Jerry Sandusky is going to do!
  • Jail is too good for these guys
    If these crooks get off without decades of jail time, there is no justice.

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