Judge lays into Durham, sentences him to 50 years

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Tim Durham, the Indianapolis businessman who used to dream of becoming the world’s richest man, ended 2012 broke and facing a 50-year prison sentence for orchestrating a $250 million Ponzi scheme.

Federal Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson handed down the sentence in November after using three words to describe both Durham, 50, and the crimes he committed: “Deceit. Greed. Arrogance.”

Durham Durham

A federal jury in June found Durham guilty on all 12 counts stemming from the collapse of Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance Co. Prosecutors charged that Durham looted the company to fund a lavish lifestyle and support other failing businesses he owned.

Fair co-owner Jim Cochran, who was convicted on eight of 12 counts, received a 25-year sentence, and Rick Snow, the chief financial officer, received 10 years.

Money for the scheme came from 5,000 Ohio investors who purchased unsecured notes from Fair boasting interest rates as high as 9 percent. Fair’s bankruptcy trustee has been trying to recover money for the investors for nearly three years but so far has been unable to make a distribution.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett called Durham’s sentence the longest ever in a white-collar crime case in Indiana.

Durham in December began the process of appealing the conviction. He likely will be represented by a court-appointed or pro bono attorney because he lacks the means to pay for his own counsel, court papers say.

His former attorney, John Tompkins, said Durham likely will argue that an FBI wiretap of Durham’s cell phone was illegal. Tompkins sought to have evidence from those wiretaps thrown out, but the judge refused.

Prosecutors said the wiretaps showed that Durham and his business partners discussed how to hide from investors that Fair Finance was running out of money in 2009.

In court documents, Durham said his only income this year is $6,000 he received as a director of Dallas-based CLST Holdings.

The documents say his mansion in Fortville, which is in foreclosure, has a mortgage of $5 million but a market value of just $3 million.•

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