INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A former chief executive of National Lampoon and two co-conspirators faced possible life sentences Friday after being convicted of swindling investors out of about $200 million.
U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson was set to sentence Timothy Durham, James Cochran and Rick Snow following their June convictions on fraud and conspiracy charges.
A jury found each man guilty of securities fraud and conspiracy. It also convicted Durham, a major Indiana Republican Party donor who resigned his National Lampoon post in January, of 10 counts of wire fraud, while Cochran and Snow were convicted on some of those counts.
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 Durham 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 lawyers argued Friday that Fair Finance held assets of roughly $240 million at the time it was raided by the FBI in 2009, but that it lost that wealth because investors made a run on the company after federal prosecutors and the media portrayed the operation as a Ponzi scheme.
Prosecutors dismissed that argument, noting that investigators are still trying to find most of the money.
"Investors were endangered by this fraud, they were turned upside down by this fraud," said prosecutor Henry Van Dyck. "It's inconceivable any other kind of analysis could be applied to what happened to them."