Timothy Durham was taken into custody by FBI agents in Westwood, Calif., on March 16, 2011.(Photo: Mark Boster, AP)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A financier and former chief executive of humor magazine National Lampoon convicted of swindling investors out of about $200 million was sentenced Friday to 50 years in prison.
District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said the case against Timothy Durham
was characterized by "deceit, greed and arrogance" and that Durham had
violated the trust of thousands of small investors from the American
"We drive Chevys and Buicks and Ford, not Ducatis.
That's how most of us roll," Magnus-Stinson said. "When they're
defrauded, it is the most serious offense because it undermines the
fabric of this country."
Two of Durham's associates, James Cochran and Rick Snow, were to be sentenced later Friday.
jury in June found the three men guilty of securities fraud and
conspiracy. It also convicted Durham, a major Indiana Republican Party
donor who resigned his post at National Lampoon in January, of 10 counts
of wire fraud, while Cochran and Snow were convicted on some of those
Prosecutors have said the three stripped Akron, Ohio-based
Fair Finance 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. The men were convicted of operating an elaborate Ponzi scheme to
hide the company's depleted condition from regulators and investors,
many of whom were elderly.
Durham's attorney, John Tompkins,
argued at trial that Durham and the others were caught off-guard by the
economic crisis of 2008 and bewildered when regulators placed them under
more strict scrutiny and investors made a run on the company.
for all three men had asked the judge for lighter sentences than those
recommended. Tompkins sought a total of five years for Durham - three
years in prison and two years of home detention.
wanted 225 years for Durham. Magnus-Stinson said she couldn't sentence
him to that much because that number would be as "puffed up" as
statements that he held $280 million in assets. But she clearly showed
her displeasure with Durham, telling him he had been "raised better" and
noting that though he testified that he "felt terribly" for the
victims, he had shown no sincere remorse.
Barbara Lukacik, 74, an
Ohio nun who said she lost $125,000 in the Fair Finance collapse, said
she had forgiven Durham and the others but testified before the
sentencing that a lengthy sentence was warranted.
"If you receive a
short sentence - a slap on the wrist, so to say - I do not think it
will be enough time for your heart and your conscience to realize your
sin and your greed," she said.
The charges against Durham led
several Republican politicians, including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, to
return hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions
sought by Fair Finance's bankruptcy trustee.