UPDATE | Eric Conn asks judges to let him out of prison in handwritten motion

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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) -- UPDATE 10/24/19 @ 10:08 a.m.
Former Eastern Kentucky attorney Eric C. Conn is trying to get out of prison, our sister station WYMT reports.

After violating house arrest, Eric Conn was caught at a Honduran Pizza Hut and extradited back to the United States.

Conn was sentenced to 27 years last year for Social Security fraud and fleeing abroad to avoid prosecution.

After he was captured in a Honduran Pizza Hut and extradited back to the United States, he was ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution.

On Oct. 8, 2019, Conn filed a handwritten motion asking federal judges to set aside or correct his sentence.

The former attorney claims that his counsel, Scott White, had a conflict of interest on the "pre-leaving for Honduras charge" since White was under investigation himself in this particular matter.

Conn also argues that Counsel Willis Coffey, who replaced White later in the case, was "ineffective for advising [Conn] to plead guilty to escape." Conn wrote that the escape charge was not relevant because he was not technically in custody when he left the country. Rather, he was "released pending trial subject to various terms and conditions."

Conn was under house arrest at the time of his disappearance. Authorities found his court-mandated ankle bracelet on the side of I-75 a short time later.

At the end of the filed motion, the former lawyer states that he is in "the middle of a lockdown" and has none of his prepared documents and materials necessary for his motion.

Hundreds of Conn's former clients lost their Social Security benefits in the wake of the fraud scheme. While several hundred got their benefits reinstated, thanks to a court order, many others are still waiting for a class-action lawsuit to possibly get their benefits back.

You can read Conn's filed motion on WYMT's website.

UPDATE 4/30/19 @ 6:11 a.m.
Former clients of Eric C. Conn received an update on their social security cases Monday in a meeting held by Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf.

Pillersdorf said the meeting was a way to meet the former clients of Conn who lost their benefits since there is no available record of them.

"I don't know who these people are. I don't know how to get up with them," he said. "If you stopped 10 former Conn clients on the street, I wonder if they know that their hearings have been declared unconstitutional."

He said there is no other way to contact these impacted people, except for those clients to come forward. He said he wants to reach those people to clear up any confusion for those who may not know that the fight for their benefits is not over.

"With respect to the approximately 800 former Conn clients who have lost their benefits, we have won a series of rulings in federal courts. Which means it's likely that all 800 are likely to get their benefits back," stated Pillersdorf.

Pillersdorf also encourages anyone with an individual open case pending in federal court to reach out to their lawyers.

"Will all 800 get their benefits back? That's probably the next battle," Pillersdorf added. "But the likelihood that most, if not all, of the 800 who lost their benefits will likely get their benefits back, will have a tremendous impact."

After the public meeting, Pillersdorf hosted a reception to celebrate the lawyers who donated their services to represent Conn's former clients.

"On the one hand, you have Mr. Conn, who has done incalculable damage to the legal profession. And he's got a lot of attention. On the other hand, not much attention has been paid to the fact that we've had almost 200 lawyers flood in here to represent the former Conn clients on a volunteer basis," Pillersdorf said.

He said though Conn caused "great damage" to the legal profession, these lawyers are working with those affected to not only reinstate their social security, but to repair the image Conn tarnished.


UPDATE 4/2/19 @ 10 p.m.
Former clients of disgraced attorney Eric C. Conn are being told they're closer to getting their disability benefits back.

Dozens of the former clients met at the Floyd County Courthouse Tuesday evening with attorney Ned Pillersdorf, who asked them to be patient but said he is optimistic their benefits will be restored sooner rather than later.

Several clients at the meeting told WSAZ they had no knowledge of Conn’s $550-million social security scheme that led to his arrest.

Conn was convicted of bribing doctors and judges to win approval for his clients.

After losing his disability benefits, Salyersville resident Jimmy Lemaster says he lost nearly everything, including his home and vehicles. He says he had to move back in with his father.

"It's been horrible," Lemaster said.

Lemaster is one of nearly 800 former clients in the area whose disability benefits were cut off after Conn's scheme was exposed.

"You don't know from one day to the next where you're going to live or eat," Lemaster said.

Lemaster says he has health problems that prevent him from being able to work.

Pillersdorf, who's represented many of Conn's former clients, says at least four of them have committed suicide.

"During the government shutdown, people were upset people were missing one or two paychecks," Pillersdorf said. "These people have been going two or three years without paychecks. It's a true humanitarian crisis."

A federal appeals court upheld an earlier decision that the SSA used an unconstitutional process to revoke disability benefits.

Pillersdorf says it’s not clear how much longer those former clients will have to wait, but he says the U.S. Supreme Court would likely have to overturn the earlier decision for the benefits not to be restored. He says that’s highly unlikely.

Former Conn clients who say they never even met the disgraced lawyer say it's painful being accused of being complicit in the historic scam.

"It makes you feel mad and hurt," Hazard resident Mary Mullins said.

"I had no clue of what was going on," Lemaster said.

Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers announced Tuesday he is requesting a meeting with the Social Security Administration on the issue.



UPDATE 3/30/19 @ 7:30 a.m.
Close to 800 former Eric C. Conn clients are closer to having their disability benefits restored after a federal appeals court upheld an earlier decision.

A court order legally made Gavin Grimm a man. And he is listed as male on his birth certificate, passport and a state-issued identification card in California. (Source: MGN)

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in November that the Social Security Administration used an unconstitutional process to revoke the disability benefits for hundreds of clients of disgraced former attorney Eric Conn. Conn is in prison for bribing doctors and judges to win approval for his clients.

The Social Security Administration asked the court for a rehearing. Friday, the court denied that motion.

"We have, I think, a bright light at the end of the tunnel that finally they'll get their benefits back", said Ned Pillersdorf, who represents many former Conn clients. "And these horrific hearings they went through, which the 6th Circuit ruled were unconstitutional, they will become a memory of the past."

It's unclear what the Social Security Administration will do next. It could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Or it could hold a second round of hearings to determine eligibility. An agency spokesman referred questions to the Department of Justice.

We talked with one former Conn client in Prestonsburg Friday who lost his benefits. Robert Martin says, despite his disability and his battle with cancer, he made it to scheduled hearings across the state. Even with his efforts, his benefits were still cut.

"We have I think a bright light at the end of the tunnel that finally they'll get their benefits back", said Martin. "And these horrific hearings they went through, which the 6th Circuit ruled were unconstitutional, they will become a memory of the past."

Because the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against looking at their November ruling once more, the ruling that the redetermination hearings are unconstitutional will stand.

"There's actually good hope. They've won this hearing in the 6th circuit and that means more than likely, these people will get their benefits back", said Martin.

Ned Pillersdorf says other judges who are ruling over cases involving former Conn clients are looking at this case closely. He says this ruling will likely help the 800 others who also had their benefits taken away. He points to a federal judge in South Carolina as evidence of that.

"He was not going to do anything in the case until he saw how the Hick's case was finally resolved", said Pillersdorf. "So that's a very good indication that today's ruling not only affects the 13 who won, but will logically affect the 800 who lost their benefits."

The Social Security Administration has 90 days to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pillersdorf says he plans to hold a meeting early next week at the courthouse in Prestonsburg to make sure former clients of Conn are up to date in the case.

He says the time will likely be Tuesday afternoon around 4 p.m.

The meeting will be open to anyone who is a former client of Eric C. Conn.


UPDATE 11/21/18 @ 7:05 p.m.
A federal appeals court ruling on Wednesday could put some of disgraced attorney Eric C. Conn's clients back on the road to getting their disability checks.

The cases involve 11 former clients who received disability checks from the Social Security Administration, but the government stopped the checks after the scheme involving Conn came to light.

Working with four doctors and federal judge, Conn was accused of getting disability claims rubber stamped using fraudulent reports.

The SSA required thousands of Conn's patients to be reevaluated to determine if were bogus.

"During its redetermination process, the SSA disregarded all medical evidence submitted by the four doctors participating in Conn's scheme on the ground that such evidence was tainted by fraud," Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote in the ruling for the Sixth District U.S. Court of Appeals.

In its ruling, the appeals court said the patients were entitled to due process under the U.S. Constitution and should have the opportunity to prove whether their medical reports were truthful.

In September, a federal judge sentenced Conn to an additional 15 years in prison, meaning the disbarred eastern Kentucky attorney could spend much of the next three decades behind bars.

Conn's sentence would run consecutive to his previous 12-year sentence for the $550 million social security scheme.

The judge also said Conn owes $72 million dollars in restitution to the government for the largest Social Security fraud scheme in U.S. history.



UPDATE 9/7/18 @ 2:35 p.m.
A federal judge has sentenced disbarred attorney Eric Conn to an additional 15 years in prison at a Friday hearing.

The judge in U.S. District Court in Lexington also says Conn owes millions of dollars in restitution. Conn was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for a $550 million social security scheme involving elected officials and thousands of unsuspecting disability clients.

However, an international escape to Central America followed by a dramatic capture six months later has proved Conn's road to justice has been a long and twisted one. Conn was found at a Pizza Hut in Honduras.

He will now face 27 years in prison.

UPDATE 6/4/18 @ 2:27 p.m.
Disbarred Kentucky attorney Eric Conn has pleaded guilty to three additional charges following his escape from the country, and he will serve an additional 15 years in prison.

Conn was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for a $550 million social security scheme involving elected officials and thousands of unsuspecting disability clients.

However, an international escape to Central America followed by a dramatic capture six months later has proved Conn's road to justice has been a long and twisted one.

He will now spend 27 years in prison.

Conn, who looked weak and frail in federal court, received an additional 5 years in prison for three charges. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to escape, conspiracy to defraud the government and conspiracy to retaliate against a witness.

"He's obviously worse off because he's getting basically an additional 15 years because he went to Honduras," explained attorney Ned Pillersdorf who represents many of Conn's victims.

Just days before the paperwork was filed for the plea hearing, an attorney with the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section entered the case.

On May 16, attorney Ann Marie Blaylock Bacon submitted paperwork to the court that she will now be serving as co-counsel alongside prosecutors in the case.

The group Blaylock Bacon works for, the Public Integrity Section, handles corruption and crimes involving judges and other elected or appointed officials.

While it's still unclear what exactly federal prosecutors are getting on their end of the plea deal, Pillersdorf thinks it may be information about other crooked officials who possibly helped Conn steal from the government. Pillersdorf's hunch could explain the appearance of the new attorney who prosecutes officials.

"The fact that a public integrity lawyer filed a notice of appearance in Conn's case...that tells me he's cooperating, and the fact that another public integrity lawyer has entered an appearance, tells me we're likely to see more indictments," said Pillersdorf.

Conn will be formally sentenced Sep. 7, and he will remain in custody until then.



UPDATE 6/4/18 @ 2:00 p.m.
Despite a court hearing set for Monday, June 4, in which disbarred Kentucky attorney Eric Conn is set to plead guilty to charges involving his escape from the country, court documents indicate the legal process may be far from over.

Conn was supposed to be re-arraigned on two counts of escape and two counts of conspiring to escape on May 25, but a hearing to change his not-guilty plea was filed on May 23.

Conn was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for a $550 million social security scheme involving elected officials and thousands of unsuspecting disability clients.

However, an international escape to Central America followed by a dramatic capture six months later has proved Conn's road to justice has been a long and twisted one.

"He's obviously worse off because he's getting basically an additional 15 years because he went to Honduras," explained attorney Ned Pillersdorf who represents many of Conn's victims.

Pillersdorf has been tracking the latest plea agreement set to go before a judge on Monday. "It's complicated. They basically have reshaped his plea so he gets 27 years," he explained.

Just days before the paperwork was filed for the plea hearing, an attorney with the Department of Justice's Public Integrity Section entered the case.

On May 16, attorney Ann Marie Blaylock Bacon submitted paperwork to the court that she will now be serving as co-counsel alongside prosecutors in the case.

The group Blaylock Bacon works for, the Public Integrity Section, handles corruption and crimes involving judges and other elected or appointed officials.

While it's still unclear what exactly federal prosecutors are getting on their end of the plea deal, Pillersdorf thinks it may be information about other crooked officials who possibly helped Conn steal from the government. Pillersdorf's hunch could explain the appearance of the new attorney who prosecutes officials.

"The fact that a public integrity lawyer filed a notice of appearance in Conn's case...that tells me he's cooperating, and the fact that another public integrity lawyer has entered an appearance, tells me we're likely to see more indictments," said Pillersdorf.



UPDATE 5/31/18 @ 6:30 p.m.
Fallen lawyer Eric C. Conn may soon learn the consequence for his escape to Honduras.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports a prospective deal for the former disability attorney asks for a 15-year prison sentence if he pleads guilty.

Conn is already serving a 12-year sentence for other charges.

Sources say U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves has to approve the agreement for it to go through.

Conn's attorney did not comment.



UPDATE 3/26/18 @ 6:35 p.m.
Eastern Kentucky attorney Eric C. Conn is asking for part of a federal case against him to be thrown out.

Conn’s attorney filed a motion asking a judge to dismiss Conn’s original 18-sound indictment which was reinstated after his December 2017 arrest. Conn is citing double jeopardy as the reason for the request.

Conn entered a plea deal last year after he admitted to stealing more than $500 million in a social security scam.

His attorney said the government cannot reinstate the original indictment because he accepted the plea. Government officials also said his sentencing occurred when he escaped custody in June of 2017.

A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky will rule on the motion once prosecution has a chance to respond.



UPDATE 1/9/18
Eastern Kentucky lawyer Eric C. Conn is talking about his escape. Conn gave the details in a handwritten, 42-page letter sent to WKYT's news partner, the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"Mr. Conn is very intelligent, but he wants to have his side of the story known," said Bill Estep, the Lexington Herald-Leader reporter Conn mailed the letter to. "The things he said were fascinating."

In April 2016, a federal grand jury indicted Conn on charges he defrauded the government out of more than half a billion dollars. He pleaded guilty in March 2017 and was awaiting sentencing when he disappeared in June 2017. The next month, a judge sentenced him to 12 years in prison. In his letter to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Conn said he decided to run because he feared being sexually assaulted while behind bars.

"What does one do when he is forced to reconcile his respect for what he knows is right and his fear of being sexually assaulted or sexually abused?" Conn wrote to the Lexington Herald-Leader. "I was not a believer and I did not have the courage to seek out counseling. I allowed fear to control my decisions."

Conn says he drove to New Mexico where he got into Mexico through a pedestrian crossing. He says no one checked his identification. In Mexico, he says, he used a puppy to cross the border. He thought it would help him get past security officers.

"The little guy was not exactly Rin Tin Tin, but I thought almost everyone loves puppies," Conn told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Authorities captured him at a Pizza Hut in Honduras last month. Conn described his life as a fugitive saying it was miserable.

"Honestly, honestly, it was horrible," he wrote. "I never got one true minute of relaxation."

"He said he never had one minute of relaxation. Life on the run was no fun. It sounded like he was almost relieved that it was over," said Estep.

"He told me he lost a lot of weight and was looking over his shoulder all the time. He was paranoid. He said he got really depressed."

Conn also said he suffered "painful guilt" over the fraud he committed even before pleading guilty.

"The actions I took to ensure that my clients would receive their disability benefits were unjustifiable," Conn wrote.

He is now in solitary confinement at the Grayson County Detention Center, waiting for a trial on escape and other charges.



UPDATE 12/29/17 @ 9:55 p.m.
Embattled eastern Kentucky lawyer Eric Conn filed a motion Friday in federal court, indicating he’s broke and needs a public defender.

In the court documents, Conn says the U.S. government seized all of his property. Conn also wrote he had an anonymous bank account with the Bank of Guatemala with $40,000, but by the time he was taken into custody, he was no longer able to withdraw any money.

He was captured in Honduras in early December. He spent six months on the run after disappearing before being sentenced to 12 years.

Conn pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge in a more than $500 million Social Security fraud case.

On Thursday, a judge ruled that Conn violated the terms of his bond when he escaped. Conn was forced to forfeit the property put up for his bail. That includes his Floyd County law complex, valued at $659,100.

Conn also faces escape charges. A former employee, Curtis Lee Wyatt, is also charged in that case.



UPDATE 12/28/17 @ 5:55 p.m.
A federal judge has ruled that a Kentucky lawyer who went on the run in a more than $500 million Social Security fraud case must forfeit property put up for bond.

WKYT-TV reports the judge ruled Thursday that Eric C. Conn violated the terms of his bond. Among property Conn had put up for bond is his Floyd County law complex known for its small-scale Lincoln Memorial and Statue of Liberty.

Conn was captured in Honduras in early December. He spent six months on the run after disappearing before being sentenced to 12 years.

A prosecutor indicated in court filings that the government will try Conn on more than a dozen charges. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Conn would have avoided the charges if he had kept to a plea deal with the government.



UPDATE 12/6/17 @ 2:45 p.m.
Fugitive lawyer Eric Conn pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges related to his escape, according to our sister station WKYT.

Conn pleaded not guilty to four counts of escape and conspiring to escape.

Conn was arrested Saturday without incident at a Pizza Hut in Honduras.

He pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge in a more than $500 million Social Security fraud case.

Conn had been on the run since June.

According to WKYT, a trial date for the escape charges was set for February 2018.

He also faces charges in a separate case related to a bond violation.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/5/17 @ 10 p.m
Fugitive lawyer Eric Conn has landed at the Bluegrass Airport in Lexington.

When asked by our crew at the scene, Conn said, "It's good to be home."

Conn was arrested Saturday without incident at a Pizza Hut in Honduras.

He has been on the run since June.

Conn pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge in a more than $500 million Social Security fraud case.

The international investigation involved multiple law enforcement agencies.

"At some point soon he'll appear in court to face the remaining charges against him," Special Agent Amy Hess said at a press conference. "As promised, Mr. Conn will now be held accountable for his actions, the people he deceived, and the lives he shattered, including all the victims of his greed in eastern Kentucky."

Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf filed a class action lawsuit against Conn. He says hopefully his capture will begin to undo the damage that Conn has caused.

"Finally hopefully this two and a half year debacle that's still going on with these people suffering, we can turn the page," Pillersdorf said. "It's finally an opportunity for people to learn that there are 800 of his former clients who've lost benefits due to his outrageous antics."



UPDATE 12/5/17 @ 1:15 p.m.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations announced Tuesday the arrest of fugitive lawyer Eric Conn.

Agents say Conn was arrested Saturday without incident at a Pizza Hut restaurant in Honduras.

"As promised, Mr. Conn will now be held accountable for his actions, the people he deceived and the lives he shattered including all the victims of his greed in eastern Kentucky," said Special Agent Amy Hess.

Federal agents spent months tracking down Conn, who cut off his electronic monitor and fled in June.

Conn pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge in a more than $500 million Social Security fraud case.

The international investigation involved multiple law enforcement agencies.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/4/17 @ 9:35 p.m.
Officials say a fugitive eastern Kentucky lawyer who escaped before his sentencing in a massive Social Security fraud case has been captured in Honduras.

The Honduras public magistrate's office says in a news release that Eric Conn was captured by police Monday as he came out of a restaurant in the coastal city of La Ceiba. The office says Conn is expected to be transferred to the U.S. on Tuesday.

Federal agents spent months tracking down Conn, who cut off his electronic monitor and fled in June. Conn pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge in a more than $500 million Social Security fraud case.

The FBI office in Kentucky declined to confirm Conn's arrest.



UPDATE 12/4/17
Fugitive eastern Kentucky lawyer Eric C. Conn was caught Monday in Honduras, according to the newspaper El Heraldo.

It reports that Conn was captured as he was leaving a restaurant in that Central American country.

Conn has been missing since June.

He was set to be sentenced July 14 after pleading guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration out of more than $550 million.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 6/25/17 @ 9:13 p.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Fugitive Eastern Kentucky lawyer Eric C. Conn managed to escape overseas just weeks before being sentenced for his role in a massive fraud scheme, according to a new report.

In an email exchange, Conn told the Lexington Herald-Leader, WKYT’s news partner, he flew to a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Someone claiming to be Conn has emailed the newspaper and WKYT in recent weeks.

The Herald-Leader claims to have verified the latest emails from Conn describing his flight overseas are authentic.

In the newest emails, Conn said he had help escaping from someone in another country.

The FBI has said Conn likely had help, but federal investigators have also said they believed Conn had not left the country.

Conn was set to be sentenced July 14 after pleading guilty to defrauding the Social Security Administration out of more than $550 million.

Two former administrative law judges have pleaded guilty in connection to the scheme and a doctor was found guilty by a federal jury.

Conn escaped home detention in early June after slicing off his electronic ankle monitor and dumping it near Interstate 75 in Lexington.

The FBI is offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to Conn’s capture.

Conn’s attorney, Scott White, told WKYT in a previous interview he thinks Conn should surrender.

Conn used a fake passport to escape and said he does “not presently plan on returning,” the Herald Leader reported.

Conn became known as “Mr. Social Security” in the mountains of Kentucky and beyond for his overwhelming success rate winning disability benefits for clients.

He later admitted to bribing judges in exchange for favorable decisions.

Because of the suspected fraud, the Social Security suspended benefits to hundreds of Conn’s former clients, many of whom have lost their benefits permanently or have been forced to go through hearings to get them back.

Authorities raided Conn's law complex in Floyd County earlier this month.

In the emails, Conn claims other people besides he and the defendants in the case took part in the fraud scheme.

UPDATE 6/12/17 @ 5:45 p.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) -- A Pikeville psychologist charged in a multi-million dollar disability scheme was found guilty Monday in a federal fraud trial.

Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins, a licensed clinical psychologist who once testified before The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs regarding attorney Eric. C. Conn, was indicted in 2016.

Adkins, Conn and former administrative law judge David Daugherty schemed to defraud the Social Security Administration out of millions of dollars. Conn and Daugherty pleaded guilty.

Conn would likely have been a witness in the trial, but cut off his monitoring device and went missing.

Adkins was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statement/representation.

Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 22.



UPDATE 4/6/17 @ 4:55 p.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A Kentucky lawyer who pleaded guilty to defrauding the government of nearly $600 million in federal disability payments has been ordered to pay nearly $31 million in damages and civil penalties in a whistle blower case, according to a judgment from U.S. District Court in Pikeville.

Last month, Eric C. Conn pleaded guilty to stealing from the Social Security Administration and bribing a federal judge. The flamboyant lawyer billed himself as "Mr. Social Security" while building one of the nation's most lucrative disability firms in eastern Kentucky.

Conn pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government money and one count of payment of gratuities. His sentencing is set for July 14.

The civil judgment does not include losses to actual Social Security clients who have been affected.



UPDATE 3/24/17 @ 6:15 p.m.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A Kentucky lawyer accused of conspiring to defraud the government of nearly $600 million in federal disability payments has entered a guilty plea.

Eric C. Conn pleaded guilty Friday to stealing from the Social Security Administration and bribing a federal judge. The flamboyant lawyer billed himself as "Mr. Social Security" while building one of the nation's most lucrative disability firms in eastern Kentucky.

Federal prosecutors claimed Conn raked in millions of dollars by paying a doctor and a judge to rubber-stamp false disability claims using phony medical evidence.

Conn pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government money and one count of payment of gratuities. His sentencing was set for July 14.

Attorneys for Conn did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.



UPDATE 3/24/17 @ 5:15 p.m.
STANVILEE, Ky. (WYMT) -- Floyd County attorney Eric C. Conn pled guilty Friday to federal charges, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

Conn pleaded guilty to stealing from the Social Security Administration and bribing a federal judge.

Congressional investigators alleged Conn used fraudulent information to secure Social Security benefits for his clients.

The Social Security Administration in 2015 ordered about 1,500 of Conn's former clients to attend hearings to determine whether they should continue receiving disability checks.

Conn is scheduled for sentencing July 14.



UPDATE 8/2/16 @ 5:57 p.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) -- Floyd County attorney Eric C. Conn will go to trial June 5, 2017.

Conn, Alfred Adkins and David Daugherty will have a status hearing in Lexington next month in anticipation of next year's jury trial.

The trial is expected to run for six weeks.

The three are accused of conspiring together to defraud the government of millions of dollars.



UPDATE 6/17/16
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WYMT) -- An eastern Kentucky disability attorney facing federal charges is allowed to leave the state to meet with members of his legal team, a judge ruled Thursday.

Floyd County lawyer Eric C. Conn has permission to travel to Washington, D.C. between June 20 and June 23, U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Weir said.

Conn, who is out of jail on bond, must meet several requirements, Weir ordered.

Conn must provide the United States Probation Office with the address in Washington where he will be staying. He must also maintain regular contact with parole officers.

Weir also ordered Conn to submit a detailed itinerary of the trip to the USPO.

Conn is allowed to travel only with people approved by USPO officials.

Conn, who is known throughout Appalachia as "Mr. Social Security," is accused of scheming to defraud the Social Security Administration out of millions of dollars.

Federal investigators claim Conn used fraudulent information to secure disability benefits for hundreds of people in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

Conn has pleaded not guilty.

Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins and David Daugherty, a former administrative law judge, have also pleaded not guilty in the case.



UPDATE 4/12/16 @ 2:30 p.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WSAZ/WKY/AP) -- Floyd County disability lawyer Eric C. Conn is being released from jail on a $1.25 million bond and other conditions.

The decision by U.S. Magistrate Robert Weir was made during a hearing in U.S. District Court in Lexington Tuesday afternoon.

Conn has been in jail since his arrest on April 2.

The judge ordered the $1.25 million bond be secured by Conn’s sprawling Pikeville home. Conn was ordered to wear a GPS tracker, surrender his passport, avoid contact with others involved in the case, not litigate disability cases or leave Eastern Kentucky.

Prosecutors argued Conn might try to flee the country if released. Judge Weir said at Tuesday's hearing he "wrestled" with whether to release him. Conn told the judge "your trust is not misplaced."

Last week, Conn, along with retired administrative law judge, David Daugherty, and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins were indicted, accused of scheming to defraud the Social Security Administration out of millions of dollars.

Federal investigators say Conn used fraudulent information to secure disability benefits for hundreds of people in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.



UPDATE 4/12/16 @ 2:30 p.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WSAZ/WKYT) -- Floyd County disability lawyer Eric C. Conn is being released from jail on a $1.25 million bond.

Conn must also put up his Pikeville home as security, and a US Magistrate ordered that Conn could not litigate disability cases or leave Eastern Kentucky as part of his release.

Last week, Conn, along with retired administrative law judge, David Daugherty, and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins were indicted, accused of scheming to defraud the Social Security Administration out of millions of dollars.

Federal investigators say Conn used fraudulent information to secure disability benefits for hundreds of people in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.



UPDATE 4/11/16 @ 10:25 a.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Floyd County disability lawyer Eric C. Conn could be released from jail Tuesday afternoon according to an order signed by U.S. Magistrate Robert Weir.

Weir has scheduled a hearing for 1:30 p.m. in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

Conn has been in jail since he was indicted last Tuesday.

A detention hearing was held last Thursday in U.S. District Court in Lexington. Jude Weir said at the time he would decide soon whether the government met the burden of proof to show that Conn is a flight risk.

According to Monday’s order, “The Court anticipates announcing particular release conditions. One condition will involve a bond secured by Defendant’s unencumbered Pikeville home; Defendant shall take the steps necessary and be prepared to document that bond post-hearing, and pre-release.”

Last week, Conn, along with retired administrative law judge, David Daugherty, and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins were indicted, accused of scheming to defraud the Social Security Administration out of millions of dollars.

Federal investigators say Conn used fraudulent information to secure disability benefits for hundreds of people in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

Keep clicking on WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 4/8/16 @ 10 a.m. .
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WSAZ) --Floyd County disability lawyer Eric C. Conn remains in jail Friday while a federal court judge decides if he should be released on bond, or remain locked up.

A detention hearing was held Thursday in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

At the end of the hearing, which lasted nearly three hours, Magistrate Judge Robert Weir said he would decide soon whether the government met the burden of proof to show that Conn is a flight risk.

An FBI agent who helped investigate the case against Conn testified Thursday. Agent Mary Trotman cited about 10 of Conn's former employees as saying Conn threatened to flee to another country like Cuba or Ecuador if he ever faced charges.

Conn's legal team argued the former employees are not reliable witnesses because they left Conn's law firm on unfriendly terms and the statements about leaving the country - even if he did make them - are several years old and therefore irrelevant.

The defense also pointed out that Conn has taken many trips overseas and always returned home, even after learning of the investigation against him launched in 2011.

At the start of the hearing the judge granted a motion by the Conn’s attorneys to have his handcuffs removed while in court, but he denied a motion that would have allowed Conn to change from his prison garb into dress clothes.

Earlier this week, Conn, along with retired administrative law judge, David Daugherty, and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins were indicted, accused of scheming to defraud the Social Security Administration out of millions of dollars.

Federal investigators say Conn used fraudulent information to secure disability benefits for hundreds of people in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.



UPDATE 4/7/16 @ 6:10 p.m.
FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Judge delays ruling in disciplinary hearing for Floyd County attorney Eric Conn, who was arrested after he was indicted by a federal grand jury.

The hearing, which was held in U.S. District Court in Lexington, was to determine whether Conn should be released. It comes two days after being formally arraigned in federal court.

Thursday's hearing lasted more than two and a half hours and much of the time was spent hearing from a special agent with the FBI.

Prosecutors must prove Conn is a flight risk. They discussed international trips and wire transfers outside of the U.S.

Conn's defense said the evidence against him is stale and questionable. He said Conn travels because he likes to see the world, but he always returns home.

The judge did not feel comfortable making a ruling from the bench and wants to review documents. Conn is to remain in custody until then.

Conn, who was led out of the courthouse by authorities, walked quietly to the transport vehicle.

When asked whether he thought the prosecution proved he was a flight risk, Conn responded by saying ask his attorney.

According to federal court documents, investigators also obtained arrest warrants for David Black Daugherty, a retired federal judge who worked at the Huntington Hearing Office in West Virginia, and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins, a licensed clinical psychologist who once testified before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs regarding Conn.

All three men are accused of participating in a conspiracy in which they deprived the Social Security Administration of "money and property," according to an 18-count federal indictment.

Court documents say the men worked together to retroactively pay disability benefits to multiple people and those people continued receiving Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

The indictment comes after years of legwork in the case against Conn. He was previously accused of using fraudulent information to win Social Security benefits for hundreds of clients in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. Lawsuits were filed against Conn and the government. The Eastern Kentucky attorney has previously denied any wrongdoing.

A jury trial is scheduled for June 7.



UPDATE 4/7/16 @ 10 a.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Social Security Disability attorney Eric Conn will be back in federal court for his detention hearing Thursday afternoon. The hearing is set for 1:30 in Lexington.

Conn, along with retired Administrative Law Judge David Daugherty, and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins, a clinical psychologist who worked for Conn, were indicted earlier this week for their roles in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $600 million in federal disability payments for thousands of social security claimants.

Conn and Adkins were arraigned on the charges on Tuesday and both pleaded not guilty to the 18 count indictment. Adkins was released on bond during the hearing. Conn was denied bond and remains in federal custody. There is still a warrant for Daugherty’s arrest.

Department of Justice officials argued that Conn should be detained because he's a flight risk. They said he told several people in 2011 and 2012 that he "would never go to jail." He also has wired money overseas and has his house up for sale, they said.

During Tuesday's arraignment, Conn's attorneys argued that he has gone abroad and faithfully returned each time. Conn's lawyers also argued that he has complied with investigators, has strong community ties in Kentucky and made the comments about not going to jail many years ago.

Meanwhile, DOJ attorneys added that Conn could intimidate a witness because Count 9 of the indictment alleges that he had retaliated against an informant who was helping law enforcement already.

When asked by the judge if Conn understood the conditions of his upcoming detention hearing, he replied, "Unfortunately, yes sir."

As part of the condition of his release, Adkins must surrender all firearms from his home and continually show up to court. Dr. Adkins' attorneys told the judge he is not actively practicing because his license has been suspended.

In the indictment Conn, Daugherty, and Adkins are charged with one count each of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud, three counts each of Mail Fraud, and three counts each of Wire Fraud.

Conn is also charged with Conspiracy to Retaliate against a Witness, Victim or Informant, Destruction of Records, Documents or Tangible Objects in a Federal Investigation, False Statements, Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments, four counts of Transactional Money laundering, and Conspiracy to Structure Currency Transactions Involving a Financial Institution for the purpose of Evading the Report Requirements.

Daugherty is also charged with Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instrument.

Adkins is also charged with False Statements.

“The defendants are charged with designing an intricate scheme, using their expertise and positions of authority, to fraudulently induce payment of $600 million in federal disability and healthcare benefits,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “While Social Security disability programs are designed to support the disabled, the defendants allegedly used it to enrich themselves. Today’s arrests demonstrate, however, that the Criminal Division will root out greed and corruption wherever they may be found.”

“The Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General is committed to pursuing those who violate the public trust by conspiring to misrepresent disabling conditions to defraud not only Social Security, but all American taxpayers,” said Special Agent in Charge McGill. “We will continue to uphold the integrity of Social Security’s disability programs, which are a lifeline for so many Americans and their families. I would like to thank the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, and in particular, the division’s Fraud Section, for their willingness to take on this case and their diligent efforts to ensure these individuals will be held accountable for their actions.”

“As I stated just a few days ago when announcing charges against Kentucky Deputy Attorney General Timothy Longmeyer, the Louisville FBI is committed to cleaning up Kentucky,” said Special Agent in Charge Marshall. “The allegations against these defendants is yet another example of Kentucky’s historical willingness to accept corruption as the status quo. Although cleaning up Kentucky is a long and difficult process, today’s announcement is another step toward ending public corruption and taking back the commonwealth from those who corrupt it.”

“IRS-Criminal Investigation is committed to unraveling complex fraud and money laundering schemes,” said Special Agent in Charge Montaño. “The allegations in this case describe a gross abuse of a system that was established to provide assistance to those truly in need. The defendants are alleged to have conspired to use their positions, to corrupt the system for their own personal gain, at the expense of the American taxpayers who fund the Social Security system. We are proud to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals who attempt to enrich themselves by fraudulent means.”

“This scheme allegedly enrolled ineligible people in Medicare and Medicaid,” said Special Agent in Charge Jackson. “We are working with our law enforcement partners to protect these government health care programs funded by our taxpayer dollars.”

The indictment alleges that from October 2004 to Feb. 13, 2012, Conn, Daugherty and Adkins conspired to defraud the government by, among other things, submitting false and fraudulent medical documentation to the SSA in order to have the SSA pay claimants’ retroactive disability benefits, continue to pay claimants’ disability benefits in the future, award Medicare and Medicaid benefits to claimants and pay Conn’s attorney fees. According to the indictment, the conspirators intended that the SSA disburse more than $600 million in disability benefits in more than 2,000 cases to claimants in Kentucky and elsewhere, irrespective of the claimants’ actual entitlement to benefits. Conn, Adkins and Daugherty allegedly received more than $5 million during the nearly eight-year scheme.

According to the indictment, Conn is an attorney whose firm in Floyd County has focused for the past 20 years primarily on representing individuals seeking Social Security disability benefits; Adkins is a clinical psychologist who performed medical evaluations for Conn from 2004 through 2011; and Daugherty is a former SSA administrative law judge who began working with the SSA in 1990 and was assigned to the Office of Disability and Adjudication Review hearing office in Huntington, West Virginia, which maintained a satellite office in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, and handled the claims of Kentucky claimants who requested hearings. Daugherty, who retired in July 2011, was responsible for deciding whether claimants were disabled and entitled to benefits.

As part of the scheme, Conn allegedly filed disability applications with the Prestonsburg Field Office, irrespective of the claimants’ residence in an effort to ultimately bring the cases before the Huntington Hearing Office, where Daugherty either self-assigned or directed others to assign those cases to himself. Daugherty allegedly solicited Conn to submit falsified medical evidence so that Daugherty could issue fully favorable decisions. Adkins and others performed pretextual physical and mental evaluations on claimants, the indictment alleges. They routinely prepared and signed evaluation reports indicating that claimants had limitations considered disabling by the SSA, irrespective of claimants’ actual physical or mental conditions, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, once the law enforcement investigation began, Conn allegedly threatened to retaliate against another person’s livelihood when that person provided truthful information to a law enforcement officer about the scheme. Conn also allegedly destroyed and directed others to destroy evidence, including federal reports, a computer tower and other electronic hardware and media located at his law firm.

Keep clicking on WSAZ mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/5/16 @ 8:55 p.m.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Social Security Disability attorney Eric Conn and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins, a clinical psychologist who worked for Conn, both pleaded not guilty Tuesday to multiple federal charges in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

The men are accused of colluding to rig Social Security cases, which have impacted more than 1,500 people in much of our region. Many of those people have since lost their disability benefits or are now fighting to keep them.

The 18-count indictment, which was unsealed Tuesday morning, also charges former Social Security Administrative Law Judge David Daugherty in the case. It is unknown if Daugherty, a former Huntington, West Virginia resident now said to be living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is in federal custody.

Conn, who remains in the custody of U.S. Marshals, has a detention hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

Adkins, meanwhile, was released on bond.

Department of Justice officials argued that Conn should be detained because he's a flight risk. They said he told several people in 2011 and 2012 that he "would never go to jail." He also has wired money overseas and has his house up for sale, they said.

During Tuesday's arraignment, Conn's attorneys argued that he has gone abroad and faithfully returned each time. Conn's lawyers also argued that he has complied with investigators, has strong community ties in Kentucky and made the comments about not going to jail many years ago.

Meanwhile, DOJ attorneys added that Conn could intimidate a witness because Count 9 of the indictment alleges that he had retaliated against an informant who was helping law enforcement already.

When asked by the judge if Conn understood the conditions of his upcoming detention hearing, he replied, "Unfortunately, yes sir."

As part of the condition of his release, Adkins must surrender all firearms from his home and continually show up to court. Dr. Adkins' attorneys told the judge he is not actively practicing because his license has been suspended.

A pre-trial hearing in the case is set for May 18, and the trial date is June 7. A DOJ attorney says the trial is expected to take four to six weeks.

The indictment also describes three additional co-conspirators, but their names have not been released at this time because they have not been indicted.

In court documents, two of the unnamed conspirators are described as having been paid for helping to falsify medical records.

The third unnamed conspirator is alleged to have helped Conn deposit, and direct others to deposit, money into a bank account. The indictment says that Conn, the conspirator and others withdrew approximately $9,000 to $9,500 in cash from the account monthly and that those withdrawals were given, in part, to Daugherty.

In the indictment Conn, Daugherty, and Adkins are charged with one count each of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud, three counts each of Mail Fraud, and three counts each of Wire Fraud.

Conn is also charged with Conspiracy to Retaliate against a Witness, Victim or Informant, Destruction of Records, Documents or Tangible Objects in a Federal Investigation, False Statements, Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments, four counts of Transactional Money laundering, and Conspiracy to Structure Currency Transactions Involving a Financial Institution for the purpose of Evading the Report Requirements.

Daugherty is also charged with Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instrument.

Adkins is also charged with False Statements.

In total, the indictment alleges that Conn, Daugherty, Adkins and the other co-conspirators sought more than $600 million in disability benefits from the SSA, regardless of whether or not the applicants were actually eligible for the benefits.

Mark Wohlander, an attorney for for Jennifer Griffith and Sarah Carver, the whistle blowers in the case, was at the hearing and made the following statement:

"Often times people have pointed to them as being the culprits in this case and being responsible for what happened, and they were doing nothing. But they were doing nothing more than trying to report a wrong that was happening that ultimately could have cost the government as you saw in the indictment at least six hundred million dollars if the claims were false, so last night was a good night for them, and from that standpoint we're relieved to see this at least moving forward."

Wohlander went on to say that the defendants should be presumed innocent and he does not want to predict the outcome of the case, but his clients are glad to see an end in sight, whatever that may be.

"I've been on both sides as a prosecutor and I don't want to predict the outcome of the case, but I can tell you that both Jennifer and Sarah believe very candidly that if people would have listened to her at the higher levels in the Huntington office back in 2007, we may not be standing here today," said Wohlander.

To see a complete copy of the indictment, including the possible penalties involved, click on the Related Documents link.

Keep clicking on WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.



UPDATE 4/5/16 @ 11 a.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- A federal grand jury has indicted Social Security Disability attorney Eric Conn, former Social Security Administrative Law Judge David Daugherty and Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins, a clinical psychologist who worked for Conn.

The 18-count indictment was unsealed Tuesday morning.

Conn and Adkins, both of Pikeville, were booked in the Pike County Detention Center Monday evening after being arrested by federal authorities. Their initial court hearing on the charges is set for 3:30 p.m. in U.S District Court.

There is no word if Daugherty is in federal custody. Court documents say the former Huntington resident is now living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

In the indictment Conn, Daugherty, and Adkins are charged with one count each of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud, three counts each of Mail Fraud, and three counts each of Wire Fraud.

Conn is also charged with Conspiracy to Retaliate against a Witness, Victim or Informant, Destruction of Records, documents or Tangible Objects in a Federal Investigation, False Statements, Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments, four counts of Transactional Money laundering, and Conspiracy to Structure Currency Transactions Involving a Financial Institution for the purpose of Evading the Report Requirements.

Daugherty is also charged with Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instrument.

Adkins is also charged with False Statements.

Keep clicking on WSAZ mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 4/5/16 @ 10:30 a.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Social Security Disability attorney Eric Conn will be arraigned on federal charges Tuesday afternoon in Lexington.

Conn was booked in the Pike County Detention Center Monday evening after being arrested by federal authorities.

The hearing is set for 3:30 p.m. in U.S District Court.

Also, arrested along with Conn was Dr. Albert Bradley Adkins who was a clinical psychologist who was employed by Conn.

Conn has been accused of colluding with a judge to rig Social Security cases for the past several years. He has denied any wrongdoing.

In October 2013, Adkins testified before congress. It was same hearing the Conn refused to testify at.

Early in 2015, the Social Security Administration suspended benefits to hundreds of Conn's clients because of suspected fraud. The agency reversed its decision at the urging of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, but those people will be required to re-prove their disability claims.

Last fall, a federal judge had dismissed most, but not all, claims in a lawsuit that accuses Conn of colluding with former Administrative Law Judge David Daugherty to rig Social Security cases throughout much of the region.

At this time, federal authorities have not unsealed the indictment against Conn and Adkins.

Officials at the Detention Center told WSAZ Monday night that Conn is being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, destruction of records in a federal investigation, false statements, transactional money laundering, and conspiracy to structure currency transactions.

There is no word on the charges against Adkins, but both men are under the same federal case number.



ORIGINAL STORY 4/4/16 @ 9:15 p.m.
PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WSAZ) – Disability attorney Eric Conn, who has faced accusations of colluding with a judge to rig Social Security cases, is in custody Monday night in the Pike County Detention Center, according to the jail’s website.

Conn is being held for U.S. Marshals, the jail reports.

He was booked at 7:15 p.m. Monday. No bond has been set.

The charges against Conn are conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, destruction of records in a federal investigation, false statements, transactional money laundering, and conspiracy to structure currency transactions.

Conn has been under scrutiny for several years and has denied any wrongdoing.

Early in 2015, the Social Security Administration suspended benefits to hundreds of Conn's clients because of suspected fraud. The agency reversed its decision at the urging of U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, but those people will be required to re-prove their disability claims.

Last fall, a federal judge had dismissed most, but not all, claims in a lawsuit that accuses Conn of colluding with former Administrative Law Judge David Daugherty to rig Social Security cases throughout much of the region.

Keep clicking on WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest on this story.




 
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