Economy

Fugitive attorney makes first court appearance on new escape-related charges

Fugitive attorney makes first court appearance on new escape-related charges”

A Kentucky lawyer who vanished for six months until his capture in Central America has appeared in a federal courtroom as he faces the consequences for his role in a Social Security fraud case. In New Mexico, he crossed the border, traveling through Mexico and Guatemala and ended up in Honduras three months ago. Officials have said the $550 million fraud he carried out was the largest in Social Security history.

Conn was famous in Kentucky, where he ran the state's biggest Social Security law firm. In billboard and TV ads, he promised to get clients big-dollar benefits.

But his empire crumbled when authorities discovered he had been bribing a doctor and a judge to approve disability claims based on fake medical evidence. "And hopefully his capture now will give us an opportunity to try to recover some of that money".

The images of Conn in handcuffs and surrounded by a team of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents brought a certain relief for Sarah Carver and Jennifer Griffith, the two now-former social security employees who first blew the whistle on Conn's scheme to swindle the government, and ultimately Kentucky and West Virginia families out of $550 million.

Through his attorney, Conn pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

White told reporters that he's anticipating that federal prosecutors will attempt to pursue more than a dozen charges against Conn that would have been dropped as part of his original plea deal.

The judge reportedly approved more than 3,000 disability cases filed by Conn and accepted more than $600,000 in bribes.

The former Social Security administrative law judge named in that indictment, David Black Daugherty, pleaded guilty in May 2017 to a two-count information charging him with receiving illegal gratuities, and was sentenced on August 25, 2017, to four years in prison.

The federal government joined the case a year ago. "They've taken away benefits from about 800 people".

One of Conn's former employees, Curtis Lee Wyatt, is facing charges of helping in Conn's escape.



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