Durham asks court to dismiss 50-year federal fraud sentence

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Convicted fraudster Tim Durham again is trying to get his 50-year prison sentence dismissed, this time claiming his lawyer shoddily defended him.

Durham is asking the federal court in Indianapolis to vacate his conviction on grounds that his attorney, John Tompkins, “failed to do much of the most basic trial preparation,” Durham, a disbarred attorney, wrote in a 28-page brief filed Wednesday.

Among the most damning charges, Durham accuses Tompkins of extensively lying because he wanted to keep the entire $1 million advance Durham provided him to cover his fee and trial expenses.

“If Durham was in jail, it was much less likely Durham could sue him for malpractice and retrieve any of the pre-paid funds,” the brief says. “To continue the deception, Tompkins continued to lie to Durham well after the trial was over.”

In his brief to the federal court in Indianapolis, Durham lobs a volley of charges at Tompkins, claiming he presented only one witness to defend Durham, failed to cross-examine most witnesses and presented no evidence after failing to investigate his case properly. He also accuses Tompkins of not trying hard enough to exclude search warrants or a wiretaps used to catch Durham and his partners.

Tompkins said he had no comment on Durham's accusations.

Durham was convicted in 2012 of securities fraud, conspiracy and 10 counts of wire fraud for operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors in his Akron, Ohio-based company, Fair Finance, of more than $200 million.

His latest attempt to get his sentence dismissed follows several appeals in 2014 and 2015.

Two of the 25 felony convictions for Durham and two other Fair Finance Co. executives were thrown out on appeal in 2014, prompting Durham to appeal his sentence. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in June 2015 that the dismissals weren’t enough to reduce the court’s 50-year sentence based on the severity of his crimes.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Durham's sentence in January 2016.

Durham, 55, is serving his sentence at the McCreary penitentiary in Pine Knot, Kentucky.

In August, he was ordered to pay $1.3 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission in a civil lawsuit that had been on hold since his convictions. The fine is unlikely to have anything more than symbolic significance, since Durham already faces hundreds of millions of dollars in court judgments that remain unpaid.

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