October 26, 2014

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Fraudulent financier: Wiretaps improper evidence

Staff and wire reports

INDIANAPOLIS — A former Indianapolis financier who was the chief executive of Akron-based Fair Finance Corp. says jurors at his trial on fraud charges should not have heard wiretapped conversations.

Timothy Durham was sentenced in December to 50 years in prison after being convicted of swindling thousands of investors — almost all from Northeast Ohio — out of more than $200 million.

Timothy Durham

The Indianapolis Business Journal reported that attorneys for Durham and co-defendants Jim Cochran and Rick Snow have filed a brief with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago arguing that investigators shouldn’t have been allowed to conduct wiretaps without first showing that ordinary investigative techniques wouldn’t work.

The 50-year-old Durham was sentenced after a jury convicted him of securities fraud, conspiracy and 10 counts of wire fraud in the collapse of Fair Finance.

Cochran is serving 25 years and Snow 10.

Fair Finance had more than 5,200 investors who were owed nearly $209 million when the company was shut down by federal officials in November 2009, according to bankruptcy court records.

Almost all the investors were from Northeast Ohio, including at least 2,169 from Summit County who invested $86.2 million; 1,358 from Wayne County, $51.4 million; and 559 from Medina County, $23.8 million.

The average individual investment was nearly $40,000.

In sentencing Durham, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said he had plundered their money so he could live a luxurious lifestyle.

Prosecutors have said Durham, Cochran and Snow gained control of Fair Finance in 2002 and stripped it of its assets and used the money to buy mansions, classic cars and other luxury items and to keep another of Durham’s company afloat.