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Durham asks court for 5-year sentence

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Convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham is requesting a much shorter prison stay than the life sentence federal prosecutors want him to serve.

Durham, set to be sentenced Friday on fraud charges related to the collapse of Fair Finance Co., is asking for a five-year sentence that would include three years in prison followed by two years of home confinement.

Durham made the request in a lengthy, 60-page federal court filing Monday in which his lawyer, John Tompkins, asks Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson to carefully review the filing, because Durham’s “freedom, for the rest of his life, is at stake.”

A grand jury in March 2011 indicted Durham, business associate James Cochran and former Fair Finance Chief Financial Officer Rick Snow on charges of wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud.

A jury convicted Durham on all charges and Cochran and Snow on some charges in June. All three are scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

According to Tomkins, a presentencing report is asking that Durham be sentenced to 225 years in prison and ordered to pay $209 million in restitution.

In his filing, Tomkins called the recommendation "absurd" and said the presentencing report "is heavily influenced by an erroneous loss calculation under the advisory guidelines."

"There is no need to incapacitate Mr. Durham beyond [five years] to prevent him from committing further crimes, given his extraordinarily low risk of recidivism, or to deter others from similar conduct," the filing said.

Durham and Cochran bought Akron, Ohio-based Fair in a 2002 leveraged buyout. According to court documents, Durham drained tens of millions from the company by making loans to himself and failing businesses he owned. Millions also went toward Durham’s mansions, a yacht, part ownership of an airplane and extravagant gambling trips.

In the years after Durham and Cochran bought Fair, the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Securities repeatedly allowed the company to sell additional unsecured investment certificates to as many as 5,000 Ohioans. The sales continued even after Durham drained the firm of more than $100 million through insider loans — and even after it ceased providing audited financials to the division’s examiner.

In the Monday filing, Tompkins argues that Durham was a law-abiding citizen with no criminal history before the jury returned its guilty verdicts. He was hard-working, deeply involved in his community, and a businessman whose efforts had employed hundreds of people, Tomkins said.

He said Durham never intentionally defrauded the investors, and that actual losses they suffered were brought on by the recession as much as Durham's actions.

“In this case, there is absolutely zero evidence that Mr. Durham subjectively intended any investor to experience a loss, and that’s what the law requires if ‘intended loss’ is to be used for the sentencing calculation,” Tompkins said.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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