Fugi­tive lawyer be­hind huge dis­abil­ity scam ex­plains why he ran off

Conn wanted to give fair trial to co-con­spir­a­tor

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DI­NAN

The fugi­tive lawyer who or­ches­trated the big­gest So­cial Se­cu­rity fraud in his­tory said he went on the run to try to give one of the other peo­ple in the scam a chance at a fair trial, ac­cord­ing to an email sent Mon­day to The Wash­ing­ton Times.

Eric C. Conn has been on the lam since June 2, when he cut his an­kle bracelet just days be­fore he was to tes­tify against a psy­chol­o­gist who helped him fab­ri­cate bo­gus dis­abil­ity ap­pli­ca­tions, in a scam au­thor­i­ties said was worth $550 mil­lion in il­le­gal ben­e­fits.

A man pur­port­ing to be Conn has now been send­ing emails to sev­eral out­lets in Ken­tucky and West Vir­ginia, and also one to The Times, ex­plain­ing his de­ci­sion to go on the run, say­ing that while he doesn’t have any affin­ity for co-con­spir­a­tor Bradley Ad­kins, he didn’t want to be part of putting the psy­chol­o­gist in jail.

“There is a guy fight­ing for his free­dom right now and I think he de­serves all that can be pro­vided in his de­fense,” the email said. “Our lo­cal me­dia here in the moun­tains has a ten­dency to sup­press any­thing that might make some­one they know look bad.”

Conn’s ef­forts were for naught. Ad­kins was con­victed by a jury in east­ern Ken­tucky on Mon­day on counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, con­spir­acy and mak­ing false state­ments. He is to be sen­tenced Sept. 22.

Ad­kins is the third per­son to be found guilty of the scam, fol­low­ing guilty pleas by Conn, the lawyer who ar­ranged the scheme, and for­mer So­cial Se­cu­rity ad­min­is­tra­tive law judge David B. Daugh­erty, who ad­mit­ted to tak­ing bribes to rub­ber­stamp ap­pli­ca­tions.

“To­day’s jury ver­dict holds ac­count­able the fi­nal de­fen­dant for his role in the largest scheme to de­fraud the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion in its his­tory,” said Act­ing As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken­neth A. Blanco.

Conn, dur­ing his ca­reer as a lawyer, dubbed him­self “Mr. So­cial Se­cu­rity” and had a rep­u­ta­tion for win­ning ben­e­fits for his clients. His flam­boy­ant adds and his sta­ble of “Conn Hot­ties” — at­trac­tive women he used as ad­ver­tis­ing — made him a prom­i­nent fig­ure in east­ern Ken­tucky.

At some point he hooked up with Daugh­terty and the two men de­cided to send bo­gus ap­pli­ca­tions through the pipe­line, with Conn pay­ing Daugh­erty a fee for each one ap­proved. Conn also main­tained a sta­ble of doc­tors and psy­chol­o­gists — in­clud­ing Ad­kins — to write fake med­i­cal eval­u­a­tions.

They were caught af­ter whis­tle-blow­ers at So­cial Se­cu­rity re­ported them.

Conn has been on the run for more than a week. The FBI last week re­leased a wanted poster of­fer­ing a $20,000 re­ward for in­for­ma­tion lead­ing to his capture.

A man pur­port­ing to be Conn emailed the Lex­ing­ton Her­ald-Leader in re­cent days to taunt au­thor­i­ties, whom he sus­pected of try­ing to track him through email IP ad­dresses: “Do they re­ally think they can find me with such a blunt method?” he said in one mes­sage to that news­pa­per.

Conn, in his email to The Times, said the gov­ern­ment was cover­ing up wrong­do­ing by the two whis­tle-blow­ers who re­vealed the scam. Conn called them “the two worst em­ploy­ees in the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion” and said they’ve been “shielded” by the gov­ern­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment is in pos­ses­sion of records that pro­vide im­por­tant de­tails re­gard­ing their mis­con­duct,” the man said in the email. “The gov­ern­ment has con­cealed th­ese records from the pub­lic to pro­tect th­ese two wit­nesses so the gov­ern­ment could use them against Dr. Ad­kins.”

The Wash­ing­ton Times has been un­able to in­de­pen­dently ver­ify that the mes­sages are from Conn. The mes­sages were sent from an anony­mous email ser­vice with a Rus­sian ad­dress, leav­ing no way to con­tact him to an­swer ques­tions from The Times.

But his lawyer said the mes­sage sounds like his client, and tracks with other mes­sages sent to lo­cal press out­lets.

“As I have stated on a pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sion, a man with noth­ing more to lose is the only man who has the un­re­stricted abil­ity to speak the truth,” the per­son pur­port­ing to be Conn said in the email to The Times.

Conn did not pro­vide an­swers about his es­cape or his where­abouts to The Times, nor did he de­tail his de­ci­sion to plead guilty.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

At­tor­ney Eric Conn, an east­ern Ken­tucky dis­abil­ity lawyer, de­frauded the gov­ern­ment of nearly $600 mil­lion through a So­cial Se­cu­rity scam.

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