Ex-Lampoon CEO sentenced in fraud scheme

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INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana financier and former chief executive of National Lampoon convicted of swindling investors out of about $200 million was sentenced yesterday to 50 years in prison by a judge who told him his "deceit, greed and arrogance" had cost many of his victims their life savings and dreams of a comfortable retirement.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said Timothy Durham, 50, had violated the trust of thousands of small investors from the American Heartland who had been careful with their money and invested it with him in hopes of traveling in their retirement, paying off their mortgages and perhaps buying a small home in Florida. She told the court Durham had plundered their money so he could live a luxurious lifestyle.

Durham said he felt "badly" for all the families who lost their savings, but never admitted any wrongdoing. "Of course I feel terrible they lost all their money. My family has lost all of its investments," he said. "I feel very badly for all the people."

Durham, who was led into the courtroom in handcuffs and leg chains and wearing a gray-green prison jumpsuit, had no visible reaction when the judge pronounced his sentence.

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James Cochran, an associate of Durham, was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison, while accountant Rick Snow received a 10-year sentence. A 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 counts.

The men were convicted of operating an elaborate Ponzi scheme to hide Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance's depleted condition from regulators and investors, many of whom were elderly.

Jane Kalina of Wayne County, Ohio, testified Friday that her 86-year-old father lost more than $170,000 that he had invested with Durham.

"I think he was the culprit and the sentence fits the crime," she said. "We're happy that he will be very old when he gets out."

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