INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - $216 Million dollars. 5,400 victims. That's the tally of the collapse of Fair Finance, a company owned by Indy businessman Tim Durham.
Don Russell is a man who likely lost the most.
"It's on my mind. It's on my mind 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Russell told I-Team 8's Brad Edwards .
"Although I've been told not to ruminate about it by professional people," he added with a wry smile.
Don Russell, a retired police officer, wasn't alone in investing his life savings with Fair Finance. Five generations of his family invested.
Don Russell felt Fair Finance was a safe place to invest their money. The company had been in business since 1934.
He used that family business' history to convince his mother to invest her life savings with Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance.
"I said, ‘Mom, they've been in business since 1934. They are going to be solid as a rock," Russell said.
But Russell didn't know that the family that founded Fair Finance no longer owned the business. Donald Fair, at age 75, had sold his business to Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham.
Over the years, Durham has flaunted his extravagant lifestyle on TV. During an interview inside his offices at the top of the Chase Tower, Durham told us, "At the end of the day when I breathe my last breath, I'd like to be worth more than anyone else in the world."
In 2007, he showed 24-Hour News 8 the $1 Million Bugatti Veyron he bought for a cross-country race. And we toured his South Beach restaurant the year the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl.
Donald Fair said he didn't have reservations about selling his business to Durham.
"Not at the time," Fair said. "I was impressed with him."
But that turned to heartbreak when Fair found out that those who invested with Fair Finance lost everything.
Don Russell said he found out when his mother called to tell him that Fair Finance had been raided.
"I remember thinking it's the worst feeling I've ever had in my life," Russell recalled.
That same night Russell's mother went to the hospital with breathing problems. She never left the hospital.
"She stayed for 29 days and literally willed herself to death," Russell told us. "She passed away on Dec. 23, 2009, two days before Christmas."
At first, the doctors couldn't diagnose what led to her death. They finally ruled it was COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), as though what happened took her breath away forever.
No charges have been filed against Tim Durham. Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi served a short time on the Fair Finance Board. It's a decision he says he now regrets.
Still, he questions why federal prosecutors have not filed charges and hopes for a resolution to the case for his friend, Tim Durham.
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