The alleged ringleader in a fraud case involving the Ohio-based Fair Finance Co. received a 50-year prison sentence, the longest of any of the three defendants found guilty on criminal charges including securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. A U.S. District Court judge called the accused ringleader's penalty "an effective life sentence," as the 50-year-old defendant will be forced to spend at least 85 percent of his sentence behind bars before becoming eligible for parole.
The men were indicted after allegedly defrauding at least 5,200 investors associated with Fair Finance Co. out of at approximately $230 million. The Securities and Exchange Commission asserted that the three defendants sold the victims interest-bearing certificates, diverting proceeds from those certificates to themselves. The suspects allegedly used those funds to pay for expensive cars and other luxury goods, as well as help support various unprofitable business entities they controlled.
The defendants repeatedly apologized to the investors who suffered from the alleged scheme, claiming they did not intend to cause financial damage. "I feel terrible about the lost money," explained the alleged ringleader.
The defendants' attorneys argued that the failure of Fair Finance Co. did not occur due to criminal action, but rather arose from poor business moves and the general effects of the recession. Fair Finance Co. has been closed since being raided in 2009 and is currently involved in a bankruptcy case.
One of the defendants received a relatively light sentence of 10 years. The U.S. Attorney's Office requested that the man be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison, but the judge declined to hand down the sentence, explaining that he felt the suspect was not "as greedy as the other two" defendants.
Source: Ohio.com, "Durham gets 50-year sentence in Fair Finance fraud case," Jim Mckinnon, Dec. 1, 2012