Co-owner of auction house found guilty

Hattiesburg, MS (WDAM) -- A Forrest County jury deliberated less than two hours this afternoon before finding Jim Durham guilty of fraud involving worthless checks totaling $230,000.  Durham was found guilty of writing four bad checks to various business and government entities, including Warren County.

Durham and his father, Don, owned and operated Durham Auctions near Brooklyn. The auction house would conduct public auctions on the sale of equipment and merchandise, supposedly put the proceeds in escrow and then send money to the seller minus their commission.  In these four instances, there was no money in the escrow account to cover the checks.

In closing arguments today, defense attorneys said it was not a crime for someone to run out of money and go broke. They stated America does not have a debtor's prison. The prosecution countered by saying Durham robbed Peter to pay Paul -- and that he can't take the money and just walk away saying he made a bad business decision.

Following the guilty verdict, Jim Durham was taken into custody by Forrest County deputies; he will be sentenced April 12th.  Don Durham faces similar charges in county and federal court but no trial dates have been set.