Former disability lawyer Eric Conn slipped his ankle monitor and disappeared Saturday, two months after pleading guilty to a $600 million Social Security fraud scheme that brought down a psychologist and a judge.
Conn, who made a name for himself promising to get his Floyd County, Ky., clients the best disability and social security payments, pleaded guilty March 24 to defrauding the Social Security Administration of $550 million. He was released on bond to await sentencing July 14, according to the Department of Justice.
Conn’s “whereabouts are currently unknown” according to David Habich, general counsel for FBI’s Louisville, Ky., office, The Washington Post reports.
Employees at Conn’s office told the FBI the fugitive may have fled to Cuba, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
In addition to the charges he plead guilty to in March, Conn also faces a class action lawsuit from his former clients. The investigation into Conn led the federal government to review Social Security benefits of 1,500 people, and 800 of those were deemed ineligible and lost their benefits.
“It was totally predictable that he would flee,” said attorney Ned Pillersdorf, who represents some of Conn’s former clients. “I was always shocked that, when he was arrested, he was actually allowed out on bond. And there has been a betting pool going on in Prestonsburg [Kentucky] on not if he would flee, but when.”
“The anger toward him is overwhelming,” Pillersdorf said according to the Associated Press.
Conn’s fraud scheme involved paying about $10,000 per month between 2004 and 2011 to a local judge, David Black Daugherty, to rule in his clients’ favor in federal disability cases. Daugherty, who has since retired, has also been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud. Alfred Bradley Adkins, a psychologist who was also involved with the scheme, would create fake medical documents for Conn’s clients to get the Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits.
Conn started his law firm in 1993, and built it into a lucrative local practice. He created a slew of publicity stunts like building the largest replica of the Abraham Lincoln memorial and a scale model of the Statue of Liberty. He’s also known for TV ads where he’s depicted as tough lawyer who’s “not one to give up on a fight” and another one of him dancing beside the viral YouTube star known as “Obama girl.”
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