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Judge rejects Durham motion to throw out indictment

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A federal judge on Thursday rejected Indianapolis financier Tim Durham’s months-long quest to have his indictment dismissed on the grounds that the government used wiretaps before it had court authorization to do so.

The ruling by U.S. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson is a big setback for Durham and his attorney, John Tompkins, who in court papers had alleged “outrageous government misconduct.” Tompkins had sought dismissal, or at least a court order suppressing all the wiretap evidence the government obtained.

Magnus-Stinson dispatched Tomkins’ arguments in a six-page order. She said this federal circuit does not recognize a doctrine of outrageous government conduct. So, she said, that would not be grounds for dismissal even if proven.

And she seemed untroubled by FBI testing of the wiretap on Nov. 2 — four days before a federal court authorized tapping of Durham’s cell phone.

“Given that Mr. Durham has been unable to marshal any case authority for his claim that merely testing software in anticipation of obtaining judicial authorization violates the statute, the court finds the … testing here — conducted on FBI lines with only an FBI technician speaking — falls within the express authorization that Congress provided the wire-tapping statute,” Magnus-Stinson wrote.

“FBI technicians can conduct as many audio tests using their own phone calls as they wish.”

Federal prosecutors have used the wiretaps to help build a case that Durham, owner of Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance Co., was operating the business as a Ponzi scheme.

FBI agents raided Durham’s office atop Chase Tower in Indianapolis and Fair’s Akron headquarters in late November 2009, about a month after the wiretapping began. Fair Finance never reopened.

A grand jury in March 2011 indicted Durham, Jim Cochran and Rick Snow on charges of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud, wire fraud and securities fraud.

Durham and Cochran co-owned Fair Finance, while Snow was chief financial officer.

Prosecutors say that after buying Fair in 2002, Durham and Cochran raided its coffers to fund a lavish lifestyle as well as a host of money-losing businesses they controlled.

Authorities say Durham and Cochran pulled money out with such abandon that they left Fair without the means to repay Ohio investors who had purchased unsecured investment certificates from the company. More than 5,200 investors are owed more than $230 million.

Snow is accused of participating in the fraud, but unlike Durham and Cochran he isn’t accused of taking out millions of dollars in insider loans he lacked the means to repay.

Durham, Cochran and Snow deny wrongdoing. They’re all scheduled to stand trial in June.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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