Fair trustee settles with local political groups

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The Fair Finance bankruptcy trustee has agreed to settle lawsuits with three local political groups in a bid to recover contributions from indicted financier Tim Durham.

The settlements with the Marion County Republican Central Committee, Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee and the Committee to Elect Lawrence Mayor Paul Ricketts total more than $60,000, according to court documents.

Trustee Brian A. Bash submitted the settlements Monday for court approval.

Bash is attempting to recover some of the more than $200 million Fair Finance owes to 5,200 Ohio investors.

Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance Co. had been run by Durham as part of what law enforcement officials have called the largest corporate fraud case in Indiana's history. Durham and two partners were arrested in March and charged with 12 felony counts.

The lawsuits against the three political committees sought donations made by Durham since 2006.

Pending court approval, the trustee will recover $32,000 from the Ricketts campaign, $23,751.55 from the Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee, and $4,250 from the Marion County Republican Central Committee.

Altogether, Durham donated $40,000 to Ricketts and made political contributions of $27,943 to Indianapolis Republicans and $5,000 to Marion County Republicans.

Both Ricketts and Marion County Republican Party Chairman Kyle Walker could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.

A lawyer for the trustee said in a court filing that the settlements “outweigh the inconvenience, delay and uncertainty associated with litigation.”

“We’re satisfied with the settlements, and we’re happy the political committees made this decision,” said David Proano, an attorney for Bash.

More high-profile political figures, including Gov. Mitch Daniels and former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, have not returned campaign contributions from Durham that they say have already been spent.

Daniels and Brizzi each received about $200,000 from him.

Proano said the trustee is in active discussions about a settlement with Daniels and Brizzi.

In April, Speaker of the House Brian Bosma agreed to return the $10,000 contribution he received from Durham.

Durham and Cochran, along with Rick Snow, were arrested March 16 after being indicted on 12 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud.

The three have pleaded not guilty.

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


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