Two days before Thanksgiving, FBI agents raided the East Market Street headquarters of Akron's Fair Finance Co.
They seized an untold number of business computers and records stored in rows of filing cabinets.
That same night, Nov. 24, the computers and files were loaded into vehicles and taken from Akron to FBI headquarters in Indianapolis, authorities confirmed today.
Special agent Wendy A. Osborne, spokeswoman for the FBI's field office in Indianapolis, said the agency is in the process of reviewing the records and computerized data and cannot say when the files will be returned.
Osborne said the FBI investigation of the company is continuing and declined to comment further.
Records filed last month in federal court in Indiana show that investigators suspected a Ponzi scheme involving the firm and its officers, including prominent Indiana businessman Timothy S. Durham, 47.
Those records, filed Nov. 24, alleged that money from investors in Fair Finance — also known as Fair Financial — was moved to companies under Durham's control in thousands of transactions apparently supporting other investments.
On the same day of the Akron raid, the FBI also raided Durham's Indianapolis headquarters, Obsidian Enterprises, a company related to Fair Finance.
According to accounts in the Nov. 24 Internet edition of the Indianapolis Star, FBI agents went to Durham's penthouse offices in Chase Tower and confiscated two truckloads of records there.
No federal or state charges have been filed in connection with the two raids.
If a similar raid on another Akron firm is any indication, it could take many months before authorities decide whether charges are warranted.
On June 19, 2006, a task force of state and local law enforcement officers raided the Akron offices of former Evergreen Corp. President David B. Willan.
Summit County court records filed in that case show hundreds of thousands of pages of business files and computer records were seized in the West Market Street raid on Willan's offices.
But it took prosecutors 18 months before charges were filed in the Evergreen case.
Willan and 16 other business associates were named in a 147-count indictment alleging widespread mortgage and securities fraud in the Akron area.
State and local authorities announced the indictment on Dec. 19, 2007, in a downtown news conference.
The case was so voluminous, two separate trials were needed for the charges against Willan. He eventually was convicted of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and scores of additional financial crimes.
Willan, now 39, was sentenced in June to 16 years in prison. He currently is incarcerated at Marion Correctional Institution as his attorney, William T. Whitaker, plans an appeal claiming numerous trial errors.
Lengthy pretrial court battles were held over the business records seized in the Evergreen raid.
Court records showed the evidence was so extensive, it had to be taken to a Cuyahoga Falls Police Department storage building.
The Evergreen raid also was a significant trial issue.
Whitaker argued in court, as well as in case filings in June before Willan's sentencing, that ''every investor received every penny that they were entitled to up until the state's raid on the companies.''
Without the records showing which investors were scheduled to be paid — and how much, Whitaker argued — the Evergreen companies went out of business and eventually were forced into bankruptcy.
''If not for the raid, there is no doubt that Mr. Willan's business would still be in operation and he would still be serving the best interests of all of his investors,'' Whitaker said today.
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or firstname.lastname@example.org.