Donald Russell choked back tears as he testified at Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham's fraud trial Tuesday.
He lost $350,000 he invested in Ohio-based Fair Finance, which federal prosecutors say Durham and his partners used as their personal ATM.
The Doylestown, Ohio, investor said he's getting by without the money, but what brings him to tears is remembering what his mother lost: $125,000 and, a month later, her life.
His mother, 82-year-old Willie Pearl Russell, died about a month after Fair Finance was raided in November 2009.
She had health problems, Russell said, but he thinks the stress of losing her life savings pushed her over the edge. He said she talked about the raid often in her final days.
Russell hasn't gotten any of his money back, he said, but if a jury convicts Durham and his partners, Rick D. Snow and James F. Cochran, of the securities and wire fraud charges against them, Russell might find a bit of comfort . . .I sometimes feel the same way every time I get a new statement on my investments. Whenever the stock market goes down, my account goes way down. When it goes up, it goes up a little but not enough to make up for the downward swings. Yet the guys on Wall Street poorly managing my money keep getting bigger and bigger salaries. Churn 'em and burn 'em. I hate them all, and I don't even know any of them. Imagine how these people feel when they get face to face with them in a courtroom. Match Russell's testimony with that of Elizabeth McClure, Durham's assistant in his Chase Tower offices, as she explains the use of the Fair Finance investor's money:
Emails presented during her testimony show Cochran once requested more than $50,000 to pay loans on his homes and his Corvette, as well as fees from gardeners who did work at his homes.
McClure said she estimated that Durham had borrowed about $20 million from his companies, and that Cochran had borrowed a few million, but she couldn't provide specific numbers.