Social Security Fraud Scheme, Lawyer Pleads Guilty
Mar 29, 2017 04:01 PM EDT
A lawyer from Kentucky who allegedly submitted false medical documents has pleaded guilty on Friday. He also bribed an administrative law judge to approve claims, obligating the government to pay more than $550 million in lifetime disability payments.
The 56-year-old lawyer, Eric C. Conn of Pikeville, confessed to submitting false documents in more than 1,700 cases. He also paid the judge about $10,000 per month for nearly six years beginning late 2004 as part of the social security fraud scheme, Associated Press reported.
Conn admitted to receiving fees of more than $5.7 million for representing claimants in the cases in the social security fraud scheme, an amount that he promised to repay the government. Additionally, the lawyer who once called himself "Mr. Social Security," agreed to pay $46.5 million in restitution to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the actual amount of money paid so far.
To help repay the government, Conn will be selling his office complex, his home, and a 19-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln outside his office. His sentencing, on the side note, is scheduled for Jul. 14 and Conn could end up in a 12-years imprisonment due to the social security fraud scheme.
Conn was allowed to remain out of jail pending sentencing, but continued an earlier order of home detention. He pleaded guilty to the social security fraud scheme before U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky - one count of theft of government money and one count of payment of gratuities. The SSA decided to have redetermination hearings for about 1,500 of Conn's former clients and has allowed 700 among them all to keep their benefits, lawyer Ned Pillersdorf told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Conn was indicted last April on up to a dozen charges over the social security fraud scheme, which includes mail and wire fraud, conspiring to retaliate against a witness, destroying evidence, as well as money laundering. Those charges will be dismissed as part of his plea arrangement.