Durham found guilty on 12 counts
A federal jury found Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham guilty on 12 counts of wire and securities fraud. The jury received the case at around 10:00 am Wednesday and a verdict was reached around 6:00 pm.
Durham was accused of bilking investors in his company, Fair Finance, of hundreds of millions of dollars. Durham's associates James F. Cochran and Rick D. Snow were also found guilty on eight and five counts, respectively.
After the verdict was announced, US Attorney Joe Hogsett told reporters, "No matter who you are, no matter how much money you have, no matter how powerful your friends may be, in a free society no one is above the law."
Hogsett said the guilty verdict sends a "powerful warning" to those who would "sacrifice truth in the name of greed." He also said that he hoped the verdict would bring "some measure of justice" for those who lost their savings investing in Durham's company.
Durham didn't testify in his own defense. Jurors never heard him explain how a high flying investment business crashed, swallowing up an estimated $200 million from 5,000 investors.
The judge denied a request from Durham's attorney for a mistrial, arguing another defense lawyer went too far in his remarks to the jury Tuesday.
Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson instructed jurors that they must separately consider each of 12 counts against the three defendants.
Before his arrest, in an exclusive interview in his California home, Durham denied any wrongdoing.
"What we did was completely legitimate and entirely legal. We were operating under the laws of the state and everything was completely legal," he said. (Read WTHR's exclusive interview with Durham from November 2010.)
Federal investigators thought otherwise. They raided Durham's swank Indianapolis headquarters and seized the business records of his Fair Finance company.
They allege Durham and his partners used the company as their private bank, taking investors' money to pay for Durham's lavish lifestyle which included mansions, a luxury car collection, boats, trips and parties.
In federal court, prosecutors presented jurors with reams of evidence including business records, transcripts and the actual recording of telephone calls and emails documenting what they claim was an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
After deciding to close their investment offices for the Martin Luther King holiday, an executive wrote that Durham thought it might be a good idea, "since Monday has been our big cash out day."
A bond hearing will be scheduled at a later date.