Archive for January 5th, 2013


Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Back in March of 2011, I noted the arrest of Timothy Durham, the CEO of National Lampoon Inc., on fraud charges. Specifically, he was accused of running a giant Ponzi scheme.

I missed the followup on this; it doesn’t seem to have gotten a lot of play in the press, plus it took place shortly after things went south for the winter for me. Anyway, Durham was tried, convicted, and sentenced at the end of November:

A jury on June 20 found Durham guilty of all 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of securities fraud, each punishable by as long as 20 years in prison, and one count of conspiring to commit those crimes. Jurors deliberated for less than a day after a 10-day trial.

Durham was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The prosecution was asking for up to 225 years.

Durham’s co-conspirators, James Cochran and Rick Snow, were also convicted. Cochran got 25 years (against 145 years requested by the prosecution) and Snow got 10 years (the prosecution was asking for 85).

And, hey, how about that governmental oversight?

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Anyone with Internet access could have spotted that the Christmas Bureau of Austin and Travis County president had racked up three theft convictions long before ascending to the charity’s top spot — a job that gave him direct access to tens of thousands of dollars in public donations.

But, apparently, nobody did. Including “representatives of the organization that was most closely connected to the Austin Police Department and had the easiest access to criminal records: Blue Santa.

Way to go, APD.

A criminal background check was never done on Washington. Tax forms haven’t been filed since 2010. And, although the organization has been designated by the IRS as a nonprofit, the Christmas Bureau isn’t an official Texas charity because it never filed the appropriate paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office.

Also interesting: the “board” (or the former board, depending on how you look at it) is remaining silent. One former president, and the guy who set up the organization’s PayPal account, “declined through his lawyer to comment due to the ongoing investigation.” A second former president, who allegedly brought Shon Washington into the organization, also declined to comment.

But her lawyer, George Lobb, said Colpaart is hardworking and honest.
“I’m firmly of the belief that my client got dragged into this mess like a dolphin into a tuna net,” he said.

“Like a dolphin into a tuna net.” I cannot lie: I live for analogies like that.

(Previously. Previously.)

This is intended to enrage you. (#4 in a series)

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

What we do instead of doing something:

City of Austin and Travis County officials plan to take steps to ban gun shows on city- and county-owned property — and potentially even curtail them on private property within the city limits, the American-Statesman has learned.

Additionally, [Austin City Council member Mike] Martinez said the city will likely explore the possibility of enacting a law that would require a special permit — granted only by the City Council — for gun shows held on private property in Austin. Martinez said he will seek legal opinions on that idea. Eckhardt said she doesn’t think state law gives county governments such authority.


“I can’t think of anything dumber,” [Texas Land Commissioner Jerry] Patterson, a supporter of gun rights, said of the proposals. “It’s absolutely not going to reduce gun violence.”

Time to make some phone calls Monday morning.

Edited to add: Giving this some more thought, Charles Harris of Storied Firearms (who is quoted in the article) deserves some praise. He could easily have thrown the gun shows under the bus. After all, that’d drive business to his place. But no.

…he sees the measure as “a feel-good thing. Politicians saying, ‘Look what we’re doing. We’re doing something to curb gun violence,’ when in reality, it doesn’t do anything to prevent crimes. Criminals can still get a gun on the streets anyway. I think there are other laws that can do a lot more good to get bad guys away from their guns.”

If you live in the greater Austin area, why not stop by Storied Firearms and pick up a little something? I visit there fairly regularly and find it to be a very nice shop. If you’re not in the Austin area, but support gun rights, there’s a contact form on their website that you could use to send a “thank you” to Mr. Harris.