40 Cars + Private Jet + $6 Million Yacht = 225 Years In Prison

Some often complain that white collar criminals don’t spend much time in jail. Post Bernie Madoff, however, things are beginning to change. A U.S. Probation Office sentencing report recommends convicted Ponzi schemer Tim Durham be sentenced to 225 years in federal prison for his role in a mssive Ponzi scheme. Durham calls the recommendation “absurd.”

Durham, age 50, elected to go to trial earlier this summer instead of agreeing to a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. At trial, a jury convicted him of all counts including securities fraud, criminal conspiracy and wire fraud. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he is facing life in prison. 225 years to be exact.

Jurors convicted Durham of running a Ponzi scheme in which approximately 5000 victims were bilked out of millions of dollars. The sentencing recommendation is high but the court can increase the base sentence recommendations based on a number of factors. Because of the number of victims, the fact that most of the victims were elderly and because the losses topped $200 million, the sentence recommendation was enhanced.

Prosecutors say that Durham became CEO of Fair Finance Company in 2005. Although profitable at first, the government proved that Durham (and his business partner and accountant) looted the company for his own personal gain. At some point he began taking and pocketing the millions of dollars being raised from investors.

Prosecutors say that he purchased some 40 automobiles, a private jet and a $6 million yacht. They say he also “borrowed” $200 million from the company. Almost all the money raised from investors was used to help float Durham’s other businesses or to pay off other investors. Little went to the business itself.

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