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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. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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