Warren County going after writer of bad check

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 4, 2008

A man indicted in Forrest County on five counts of writing almost $318,000 in bad checks, including a check for $125,000 to the Warren County Board of Supervisors, surrendered Wednesday to the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department after having eluded law enforcement officers for over a month.

James Durham, 36, co-owns the bankrupt Durham Auctions with his father, Don Durham, 56. Both are in legal trouble.

According to a document filed by the FBI in U.S. District Court in Hattiesburg, James Durham was last seen Nov. 2 in Perdido Key, Fla., but he denied that claim, stating he was meeting with his bankruptcy lawyer that day. He also said it never appeared to him that he was being sought, as his home, property, friends, family and lawyers were not checked or questioned.

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In an e-mail to the Hattiesburg American, James Durham confirmed his knowledge of the bad checks, writing, “Yes, checks bounced — every check! What in the world were we supposed to do? Can’t pay anything, can’t accept rent after bankruptcy. Again I ask, what were we supposed to do?”

However, in a letter to FBI agent Douglas A. Knight, Forrest County Assistant District Attorney DeCarlo C. Hood said James Durham “received payment for auctioned property from buyers, but either gave bad checks to the sellers or failed to provide payment completely.”

James Durham’s father and company president, Don Durham, has been arrested twice this year on embezzlement charges in Forrest County, and officials in Kenner, La., sued the business after the city contracted it to auction surplus public property and later discovered Don Durham was not authorized by the Louisiana secretary of state to hold an auction.

Warren County Board of Supervisors President Richard George said supervisors here are following Kenner’s example and have filed charges against James Durham. The check written to Warren County was the purchase price for a surplus motor grader, George said.

Ken Rector has been hired as the county’s attorney in the civil aspect of the case.

In addition to the criminal charges, Durham Auctions has at least 11 civil complaints filed against it in Forrest County Circuit Court, including a complaint filed by First Bank and Trust of Mississippi seeking about $412,000.

The company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Nov. 10. William J. Little Jr., the company’s bankruptcy attorney, has said the company owes $18 million to creditors.


Contact Megan Holland at mholland@vicksburgpost.com.