Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

National Lampoon chief arrested in alleged $200-million Ponzi scheme

Timothy Durham, chief executive officer of National Lampoon Inc., is taken into the Federal Building in Westwood by FBI agents.

Read Timothy Durham's arrest warrant. The chief executive officer of National Lampoon Inc., the comedy brand behind "Animal House" and the "Vacation" movie franchise, was arrested early Wednesday in West Hollywood in connection with an alleged $200-million Ponzi scheme, federal authorities said.

DOCUMENT: Arrest warrant for Timothy Durham

Timothy Durham, 48, is accused in a federal grand jury indictment of defrauding investors through his loan company and using the money to support expensive homes and cars, a 100-foot yacht and travel on a personal jet.

The arrest and indictment come two years after the FBI raided two of Durham's businesses -- Obsidian Enterprises of Indianapolis and Fair Financial of Akron, Ohio. Also named in the 23-page grand jury indictment were business associates James F. Cochran and Rick D. Snow.

All three each face 12 counts in connection with securities and wire fraud. Durham, who could not immediately be reached for comment, is scheduled to appear Wednesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Shortly after purchasing Fair Financial in 2002, Durham and Cochran began to alter the business, the indictment said.

"Instead of using the majority of the money that Fair raised from investors through the sale of investment certificates for Fair's consumer financing business, Durham and Cochran began using investor money to make loans to themselves, to their family, friends, and acquaintances, and to businesses they owned or control," the indictment stated.

Durham became CEO of National Lampoon in 2009 after his predecessor, Donald Laikin, was arrested and charged in 2008 with allegedly manipulating the stock of the Los Angeles-based company.

Durham had sought to revive the flagging brand and its now-shuttered "National Lampoon" humor magazine.


Rapper Nate Dogg dead at 41

California tsunami could come with no warning

Rizzo's horse-racing partner got millions in city business, D.A. says

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Timothy Durham, chief executive officer of National Lampoon Inc., is taken into the Federal Building in Westwood by FBI agents. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (16)

whoa ... THAT'S not very funny

I suppose that after P. J. O'Rourke we should expect this.

Not very funny, but I cannot hold back on the Irony.

Doug Kenney is rolling in his grave, laughing.

Brilliant business move ,
Use the investors money for expensive toys for yourself .
Of course the investors will Never figure it out even when you fail to produce Any products other than receipts for your jet maintenance .

And I used to think only meth heads and junkies were short term idiots .

Hope it was worth it.

It's 2011--who is still falling for Ponzi schemes?

That's right--people who know it's a Ponzi scheme but pretend not to notice so long as they can still extract a profit from the scheme itself.

"And I used to think only meth heads and junkies were short term idiots"

who is the idiot, he simply traded off his later years for early ones living the high life. This is what america has come to - f everyone else, take what you can when you can, one scam after another. This is a direct effect of the wall street casino.... any semblance of work hard and get ahead is gone. Everyone wants to be a CEO, now making 500x avg worker and doing nothing.

rookie move

Durham should have taken Dean Wormer's immortal line to heart:

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

I guess he wasn't rich enough.

Spot on Thomas B.

I could see a National Lampoon movie about a Ponzi scheme, it would be funny. This is not.

Let us not forget other businesses like AllModelZone.com that Tim Durham has stolen money from and destroyed. Using National Lampoon to defraud sellers and issue them worthless stock, and not pay the money as well, put this mighty website on the brink.

This story will become the best comedy of the year.

This is the Age of The Thief. Watch. He will get less time in jail than the Black kid trying, and failing, to walk out of a store with a pair of shoes.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Please send to newstips@latimes.com
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: