A former eastern Kentucky social security disability lawyer and an accomplice were charged in a federal indictment with various offenses related to the lawyer’s escape from home confinement and his failure to appear for sentencing.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI Louisville, Kentucky Field Division and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General’s (SSA-OIG) Philadelphia Field Division made the announcement.
Eric Christopher Conn, 56, of Pikeville, Kentucky, the former disability lawyer, and Curtis Wyatt, 47, of Raccoon, Kentucky, his alleged accomplice, were charged in a seven-count indictment returned on Sept. 6, in the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington. The indictment was unsealed prior to Wyatt’s initial appearance and arraignment today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier of the Eastern District of Kentucky. Wyatt entered pleas of not guilty and was released on bond pending his trial, which is scheduled for Dec. 18, before U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves. Conn remains a fugitive.
The indictment charges Conn and Wyatt with one count of conspiracy to escape and one count of conspiracy to fail to appear for sentencing. Conn is also charged with one count of escape and one count of failing to appear. Wyatt is also charged with one count each of assisting in Conn’s escape, aiding and abetting Conn’s failure to appear, and making a false statement to the FBI.
The indictment alleges that Conn, while on home confinement, escaped from custody by severing an electronic monitoring device from his ankle during a court-approved visit to Lexington on June 2, and fled to the Mexican border in a vehicle delivered to him by Wyatt a day earlier. The indictment further alleges that Wyatt, at Conn’s direction and prior to Conn’s escape, crossed into Mexico at two different pedestrian checkpoints to assess security procedures for individuals exiting the United States in an effort to aid Conn in escaping prior to Conn’s sentencing hearing. According to the indictment, Conn ultimately failed to appear for his sentencing hearing on July 14.
Conn was indicted last year, along with a former Social Security administrative law judge and a clinical psychologist, in an 18-count indictment charging conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, false statements, money laundering and other related offenses in connection with a $600 million social security disability fraud scheme. Conn previously pleaded guilty on March 24, to a two-count information charging him with theft of government money and paying illegal gratuities, and was sentenced in absentia on July 14, to 12 years in prison on those charges. Conn remains charged under the original indictment.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to the arrest of Eric Christopher Conn. Anyone with information relating to Conn’s whereabouts should contact their local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.
The SSA-OIG and FBI investigated the case. Trial Attorney Dustin M. Davis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Elizabeth G. Wright of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case.