Eric Christopher Conn, 56, of Pikeville, Ky, a lawyer who specializes in Social Security Disability claims has been arrested for fraud. Conn (Named appropriately) was able to achieve a 99.7% success rate by paying SSA administrative law judge David Daugherty ten thousand a month for 6 years to find in his client’s favor. He used a variety of doctors to fill out false medical records.
In a break for the governmentwide effort to thwart improper payments, the Justice Department on Friday announced a guilty plea by a Kentucky disability attorney involved in a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration of as much as $550 million.
Eric Christopher Conn, 56, of Pikeville, Ky., pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to one count of theft of government money and one count of payment of gratuities.
From October 2004 to April 2016, according to the plea, “Conn participated in a scheme with former SSA administrative law judge David Daugherty and multiple doctors that involved the submission of thousands of falsified medical documents to the SSA. Conn and his co-conspirators obligated the SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants for these fraudulent submissions.”
The problem now is that 800 people have had their claim cancelled and many of them are legitimate. Another 700 could be bumped soon. They do not have real medical reports and the new lawyer has to start from scratch, but those people will not have any money to live on. Investigators say that the clients were unaware of what Conn was doing. Some are now receiving letters that they have to pay back sums as high as six figures.
The development was welcomed by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has been mulling legislation addressing disability fraud.
“This is an important step in the fight against Social Security disability fraud,” he said. “Conn broke the law to get people on disability benefits. Worse, some of his former clients deserve the benefits they receive but didn’t know they were working with a crooked lawyer. Americans have the right to expect that those in positions of trust, like lawyers, aren’t trying to cheat that system and that disability benefits only go to those who deserve them.”
The plea bargain was obtained by Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, along with special agents from SSA’s Office of Inspector General Philadelphia Field Division; the FBI’s Louisville, Ky., Field Division; the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigations field office in Nashville; and the Health and Human Services Department’s inspector general office in Atlanta.
Conn will be sentenced on July 14th. He faces 12 years in prison.