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Durham found guilty on all counts

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A federal jury found attorney and financier Tim Durham guilty Wednesday on all 12 felony counts stemming from what prosecutors charged was a massive Ponzi scheme that cost investors in Ohio-based Fair Finance more than $200 million.

The jury found Jim Cochran, who co-owned Fair, guilty on eight of 12 felony counts and Rick Snow, the firm's chief financial officer, guilty on five of 12 counts.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ordered all three held at the Marion County Jail until a hearing Monday morning, when she will determine whether they should remain detained or be released on home detention until sentencing.

Durham, 49, Cochran, 56, and Snow, 48, were handcuffed and led out of the courtroom by U.S. Marshals, who transported them to jail. The defendants did not exhibit an obvious reaction, though a few family members who had gathered in the courtroom wept.

The defendants each faced the same 12 counts: 10 counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and securities fraud.

After deliberating for about eight hours, the jury found Durham guilty on all counts, while splitting its decision on Cochran and Snow. The pair were found not guilty on three charges involving wire transfers of funds from Fair that wound up in Durham's bank account.

For wire fraud charges involving recorded phone calls, the jury found the two defendants on each particular call guilty. Durham was a participant on every call that resulted in charges.

The jury found all three defendants guilty of securities fraud, conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud and two counts of wire fraud involving the dissemination of an offering circular for investors in Fair Finance.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Winfield Ong urged the defendants be taken into custody, telling the judge they are flight risks. The defense attorneys argued their clients should be released back to home detention pending sentencing.

"Tens of millions of dollars are missing," Ong told the judge. "All of them are facing life sentences. All it takes is $2,000 to get across the border."

The judge said she would make the decision after hearing evidence on the question at 10 a.m. Monday.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett hailed the jury's decision, calling the case "the most significant piece of litigation the Southern District has seen in a generation."

The verdict was a huge victory for Hogsett's office and the FBI, which began investigating Durham more than three years ago.

Hogsett vowed to seek the "full and maximum penalties." He said that makes it "entirely likely (the defendants) will serve the rest of their lives in jail."

Each wire fraud charge can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years; the punishment on the securities fraud charge would take into account the number of investors who lost money and how much they lost.

Sentencing will occur in the next few months. At that hearing, defendants would have the opportunity to call character witnesses.

Durham defense attorney John Tompkins declined to comment as he left the courtroom Wednesday.

David Spector, an Ohio businessman who lost about $200,000 in Fair and testified for the prosecution, expressed gratitude when reached by phone Wednesday evening.

"I think the jury heard all the evidence, and it's pretty clear from the short deliberation and the verdict that the evidence was overwhelming," said Spector, who lives in Wooster, Ohio. "It sounds to me like the system worked."

Brady Cassidy, a 68-year-old Wooster resident who lost $90,000, added: "It doesn't put a dime in our pocket. But justice is served, and that's great. I'll have a good evening."

The judge read the verdicts starting at about 6:25 p.m. Wednesday.

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense offered their closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, a few hours after defense attorneys for the three defendants rested their cases. The jury began its deliberations at 9:50 a.m. Wednesday. The trial began June 11 in U.S. District Court after jury selection on June 8.

The U.S. Attorney's Office offered six days of testimony, thousands of pages of documents and recordings from FBI wiretaps as it tried to convince jurors the defendants ran Ohio-based Fair Finance as a Ponzi scheme, defrauding more than 5,000 investors.

Prosecutors said the defendants gutted Fair Finance by doling out tens of millions of dollars in related-party loans to Durham, Cochran, their friends and their failing businesses. Those loans were never repaid.

Defense attorneys blamed the 2009 collapse of the consumer-loan company on a "perfect storm" of a bad economy, bad press and newly skeptical Ohio regulators. Defense presentations lasted less than two hours and did not include testimony from Durham or his co-defendants.

On June 1, the Indiana Supreme Court suspended Durham for not paying his annual registration fee. He was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1987 and does not have a history of discipline, according to the Indiana Roll of Attorneys. The suspension is to begin June 22.

To catch up on the Indianapolis Business Journal's coverage of Fair Finance and Tim Durham, click here.


 

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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