Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Feds Unseal Some Search Warrant Records In Fair Finance Case

Federal prosecutors have kept court documents it filed to obtain a search warrant for its FBI raid of Fair Finance's offices in Ohio and Tim Durham's Obsidian Enterprises offices in the Chase Tower in Indianapolis in November, 2009 under wraps until this week when it partially unsealed some of those records. The records unsealed this week "stated that they were requesting the search warrants for suspected U.S. criminal code violations in connection with wire fraud, money laundering and various securities violations," a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland told the Akron Beacon-Journal. From a Beacon-Journal story today on the unsealed documents:

Federal agents seized more than 200 business computers, computer servers, filing cabinets, accounting ledgers and monthly income reports in the November 2009 raid of Akron's Fair Finance Co.

The records, including the FBI application for the Fair Finance search warrant and a detailed list of items seized in the raid on the company's East Market Street office, were partially unsealed Tuesday in Akron by U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi.

Federal authorities from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cleveland and Indianapolis, where the bankrupt company maintained its headquarters in the years leading up to the raids, had asked for the records to be unsealed after Fair Finance co-owners Timothy Durham and James Cochran were named earlier this month in a 12-count criminal indictment.

The indictment, also naming the company's former chief financial officer, Rick Snow, who was based in Akron, alleges that they defrauded thousands of Ohio investors out of some $208 million since Durham and Cochran bought the longtime Akron financial firm in 2002.
No information about records seized from Durham's Indianapolis office were released. "Winfield Ong, a U.S. Assistant Attorney in the Indianapolis office, said no similar documents were released there and he did not know whether his office would release them in the future," the Beacon-Journal reported. The affidavit federal agents filed in support of its application for the search warrant also remains under seal. ''The affidavit contains substantial substantive investigative information which would greatly prejudice the criminal case in a variety of ways if it were to be made public,'' U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach, who is based in Cleveland, stated in court documents filed earlier this week.

The Beacon-Journal notes the court action filed by it and the Indianapolis Business Journal seeking to unseal all of the records. A 2010 decision by a U.S. federal district court Judge Sarah Loi blocking the unsealing of the documents is currently on appeal before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

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