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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. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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