Defense Rests In Durham Trial
Tim Durham (wibc.com file)
The defense in the federal trial of Tim Durham and partners has rested its case. Defense attorneys called only one witness to testify on their behalf.
Closing arguments are set to begin at 1 pm, with each side getting at roughly 90 minutes. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson told jurors that after closing arguments, they'll rest for the remainder of the day and return Wednesday morning to receive instructions and begin deliberations. Stinson says they'll be sequestered if deliberations run past Wednesday.
Durham's attorney John Tompkins called one witness to testify on Durham's behalf. Tompkins called Somerset Certified Public Accountant Christopher Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld testified that he wrote a 2005 financial report on the fiscal status of one of Durham's companies, Obsidian Enterprises Inc. He stated that most of the information he received came from one of Durham's partner's Rick Snow. Hirschfeld showed the firm turning profits. However, under cross examination by the prosecution, it was revealed that many of Durham's companies lost tens of millions of dollars.
Durham and partners Jim Cochran and Rick Snow are charged with conspiracy, wire and securities fraud. Prosecutors allege the men ran a $200 million Ponzi scheme that ripped off 5000 investors, mainly elderly people. Prosecutors have relied on federal telephone wiretaps and email among Durham and partners to build their case. Much of the correspondence involves the trio discussing the transferring of tens of millions of dollars between Durham's companies, Fair Holdings, DCI Investments and Obsidian Enterprises among others.
Prosecutors are trying to convince jurors that Durham and partners financed luxury lifestyles that included homes, fancy cars and parties at places like the Playboy Mansion among other things with investor money. They called numerous witnesses including Ohio investors Donald Russell and David Spector who say they were bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors also played phone calls between Durham and partners discussing creative ways to explain their financial records for curious Ohio securities regulators. If convicted, the men face years behind bars.
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