State Republican committee agrees to Durham settlement

The Indiana Republican State Committee has agreed to pay Fair Finance Co.'s bankruptcy trustee almost $88,000 to make up for contributions it received from the company's indicted CEO, Indianapolis financier Tim Durham.

Bankruptcy Trustee Brian Bash disclosed the settlement Friday along with a separate agreement with Aiming Higher, a political action committee supporting Gov. Mitch Daniels. The group agreed to pay the trustee $10,000.

The two are the latest political groups to settle with Bash, who for months has been negotiating with Indiana politicians who were beneficiaries of Durham’s largesse before his financial empire collapsed two years ago. The trustee contends the payments were fraudulent transfers because they were made when Durham and his companies were insolvent.

Still unresolved is a settlement with Daniels, who received about $200,000 in campaign contributions from Durham.

Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi also received about $200,000 from Durham. Last month, his Brizzi for Prosecutor Committee agreed to repay $170,881 donated by Durham, Fair Finance and affiliated companies. Brizzi also agreed to pay $25,000—a portion of the sum the trustee alleged Fair Finance and Durham provided him in personal loans and financial assistance.

The settlement with Brizzi represents the largest amount Bash has collected from a politial group or politician who received funds from Durham.

Bash since early 2010 has been trying to recover money for Fair Finance's investors—Ohio residents who purchased unsecured certificates with interest rates as high as 9.5 percent. He alleges Durham “utterly looted” Akron-based Fair after buying it in 2002, stripping the business of the financial wherewithal to repay more than 5,000 investors who are owed more than $200 million.

Before his arrest, Durham was one of the largest contributors to Indiana politicians, particularly Republicans. The trustee expects to recoup more than $285,000 from seven earlier settlements with campaign committees and politicians who'd received Durham donations.

Another high-profile officeholder who settled was Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, who returned $10,000.

Durham and two business partners, James Cochran and Rick Snow, were arrested in March after being indicted on 12 felony counts, including conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud. They deny wrongdoing.

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

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