Feds Drop Effort To Seize Durham Assets

Investigators Say Durham Engaged In Financial Scheme

Federal prosecutors have dropped their effort to seize the assets of Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham.

The U.S. Attorney's Office on Monday withdrew the request to take control of Durham's assets, including his 36,000-square-foot home along Geist Reservoir.

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The request was made because investigators don't think Durham is a risk to sell the assets, but information about why that determination was made wasn't immediately released.

Federal investigators said Durham ran an investment scheme using one of his companies, Ohio-based Fair Financial.

Investigators had originally sought to seize Durham's assets in Indiana and California in a 10-page civil complaint filed last week.

The complaint accuses Durham and his associates at Akron, Ohio-based Fair Financial of telling investors their money would be invested in low-risk, high-yield short-term consumer debt.

"Instead, the money provided by victims of the scheme was used to make interest and redemption payments to earlier victims of the scheme, thereby lulling the earlier victims into believing that their money was being (invested) responsibly," the complaint said.

No criminal charges have been filed against Durham.

Durham's attorney, John Tompkins of Indianapolis, told 6News on Monday that his client, who is back in Indiana from the west coast, is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances, but offered little about the case.

"We don't know where it's leading and that's one of the reasons we're not saying anything until we have a chance to get our arms around it and get organized," he said.

Last week, FBI agents raided the offices of Fair Financial and Indianapolis-based Obsidian Enterprises, also run by Durham.

Tompkins said then that Durham believed he had done nothing wrong.

The government's complaint describes a pattern of money flowing back and forth between Fair Financial and numerous other companies run by Durham.

Federal Reserve Bank records showed more than 6,000 wire transactions between May 2004 and May 2009 for 21 companies under the control of Durham and his business partner, James Cochran. The wire transactions also detailed money transfers from Fair Financial to its parent company, Fair Holdings, also controlled by Durham and Cochran.

In more than 900 separate wire transactions during the five-year period, Fair Financial sent approximately $84.2 million to the First Indiana Bank account of Fair Holdings, the government filing said.

Fair Holdings then wired money to nearly 50 individuals and businesses, including $6.9 million to U.S. Rubber Reclaiming, an Obsidian subsidiary; $5.3 million to Speedster Inc., a classic car replica manufacturer owned by Durham; $1.8 million to Obsidian's former parent company, Danzer Industries; and $1 million to Champion Trailer, a former Obsidian subsidiary, said the complaint filed Tuesday.

Durham operated at least two holding companies and 19 operating subsidiaries, with approximately 77 individual bank accounts, the complaint said. As of June 30, the financial statements for Fair Financial showed total assets of about $241 million, with approximately $192 million in loans to Durham and his various businesses. The statements also show a net operating loss for 2008 of about $1.7 million and net income of $129,845 for the first six months of 2009.

The complaint also accuses Durham of keeping a portion of the investments for his personal use.

Last week, Indiana politicians distanced themselves from Durham, who previously contributed heavily to primarily Republican campaigns.

6News reported last week that Durham had contributed $280,000 to Gov. Mitch Daniels' campaigns and nearly $180,000 to Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi.

Tim Motsinger, a Republican who was running for Marion County sheriff, announced he was leaving the race because to the loss of Durham's financial support. Durham had also served as campaign finance chairman for the campaign.

In 2007, 6News toured Durham's 30,000-square-foot-home near Geist Reservoir. The seven-bedroom mansion includes a private apartment, where the late Anna Nicole Smith once stayed during the Indianapolis 500, and a two-story garage housing an extensive classic car collection.