INDIANAPOLIS: The attorney for an Indianapolis financier convicted of swindling thousands of Ohio investors in the $200 million Fair Finance Co. scandal will ask for a five-year sentence for his client, a marked difference than the recommended maximum sentence of 225 years.
Timothy Durham is due to be sentenced Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. He was convicted in June for securities fraud, conspiracy and 10 counts of wire fraud involving Akron-based Fair Finance.
Also convicted on related counts were Fair Finance co-owner James Cochran and Rick Snow, the company’s former chief financial officer. They also are scheduled to be sentenced on Friday.
“We believe that [five years] is well-supported by the law,” Durham’s attorney John Tompkins told the Indianapolis Star.
Tompkins argued in Monday’s filing that Durham deserves a shorter sentence because “the seriousness of Mr. Durham’s offenses is substantially overstated.”
Last month, Tompkins filed documents with the court protesting a report prepared by U.S. probation employees recommending a maximum sentence of 225 years in prison. He argued the government caused the collapse of the Durham-led Fair Finance by ruining its reputation.
Some of Durham’s relatives have submitted letters to the court in support of a lighter sentence.
“He isn’t the type of person who would try to steal money from people,” Durham’s mother, Mitza Durham, wrote. “He was giving to people. Tim would never intentionally hurt us, or anyone else.”
Prosecutors claimed that after buying Fair Finance in 2002, Durham and his partners stripped it of its assets and tapped it to buy mansions, classic cars and other luxury items. Prosecutors said the men also funneled funds to Durham’s Indianapolis-based holding company, Obsidian Enterprises, to keep its failing subsidiaries intact.
Ohio investors purchased more than $200 million in uninsured investment certificates from Fair Finance. The certificates had long been used to provide capital for Fair’s business model, buying and processing accounts receivables.
Tompkins has claimed the government’s calculation of investor losses — a key factor in determining a sentence — is based largely on disputed assertions never proven by prosecutors. The document also asserts that government attorneys failed to prove the men’s activities caused the losses, which occurred during a turbulent economy.
The allegations against Durham — a major Indiana Republican Party donor — led several GOP politicians, including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, to return hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions sought by Fair Finance’s bankruptcy trustee.
Durham and Cochran bought Fair Finance from Don Fair, whose father founded the business in the 1930s. The FBI raided Fair Finance’s offices the day before Thanksgiving in 2009; the business never reopened.