By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer
The trustee for Fair Finance Co. said the bankrupt company’s estate now has nearly 11 million shares of stock held by now-imprisoned owner Timothy Durham.
Most of the stock is in comedy movie maker National Lampoon Inc., trustee Brian Bash said Tuesday in updating the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Akron on the years-long, $200 million financial scandal case that affects about 5,300 Ohio residents.
“We are seeking to collect on those shares,” he said during a teleconference call in open court. The regular monthly hearing lasted about a half-hour. Besides the judge and court staff, the only person attending was a newspaper reporter.
While the number of National Lampoon shares is large, the value may be quite small, based on the latest available pricing information. National Lampoon Inc. shares have lost nearly 90 percent of their value over the last 12 months, currently sell for about half a penny apiece and trade sporadically. (For instance, 11 million shares at half a penny apiece works out to $55,000.)
Durham, co-owner of Akron-based Fair Finance, also had run National Lampoon. Bash is suing National Lampoon for $9 million; a trial date is next June in California.
Durham and co-owner James Cochran, both Indianapolis businessmen, were convicted last year in federal court in Indiana of bilking more than $200 million from thousands of Ohio residents who bought uninsured investment certificates from Fair Finance.
Also Tuesday, Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge Marilyn Shea-Stonum asked about the trustee’s proposal to pay $92,500 to settle a dispute with vendor Complete Discovery Source Inc. The New York computing services firm said it was owed nearly $233,000 for cost overruns to provide a web-based data “room” in the years-long case. The site provides online access to millions of Fair Finance documents.
“The data room has been very successful for the estate,” said David Proano, who works with trustee Bash at the Cleveland law firm Baker Hostetler.
“It is a big time, time saver,” he said, adding the use of online records is a powerful tool that can streamline cases.
“The data room is a secure web site that can be accessed anywhere in the world” with an authorized login, Proano said. Using paper records likely would require the use of thousands of file cabinets, he said.
The next hearing is at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 19.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.