Eric Conn, the former Kentucky attorney who fled the country after he pleaded guilty to leading a massive Social Security disability fraud scheme, was apprehended in Honduras this week and returned to the United States for arraignment on charges related to his escape.
Conn pleaded guilty in March to his involvement in the scheme, and he was placed under house arrest with a GPS ankle monitor while he awaited his sentencing. On June 2, however, he reportedly removed the monitor and fled before his sentencing hearing, scheduled for July 14. Conn did not appear in court, but a judge still sentenced him, in absentia, to 12 years in prison.
With the help of an accomplice, Conn allegedly escaped to Mexico. Conn’s associate allegedly delivered a vehicle to Conn the day before the escape. According to officials, at Conn’s direction prior to escape, the associate crossed into Mexico at two pedestrian checkpoints to assess security procedures for people leaving the United States. Conn and his accomplice were charged in connection to the escape in September.
Five months after the reported escape, on December 2, officials located Conn at a Pizza Hut in La Ceiba, Honduras. With assistance from the Agencia Tecnica de Investigaticiones Criminales de Honduras and the FBI’s Legal Attache in San Salvador, authorities took Conn into custody without incident.
At a press conference in Kentucky this week, Amy Hess, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Louisville, Kentucky Field Division, said authorities worked tirelessly to locate and apprehend Conn.
Hess said multiple agencies coordinated the effort; officials interviewed dozens of people connected to Conn, reviewed emails and social media entries believed to be from Conn, analyzed financial accounts and bank records, conducted physical surveillances and searches, and offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to Conn’s capture.
“[We said] we would bring all available resources to bear to find Mr. Conn and bring him to justice, to hold him accountable for the lives he impacted and the trust he betrayed,” Hess said. “We implored him to cooperate, in order to best serve the community that he once was a part of, and to bring him in safely. He refused to do so.”
Conn and his accomplice pleaded not guilty to the charges connected to Conn’s escape. Both are scheduled to proceed to trial in February 2018. Conn has started to serve the 12-year prison sentence he received in July.
“Earlier this year, Mr. Conn pleaded guilty to leading a multi-million dollar Social Security disability fraud scheme for several years in Kentucky and West Virginia,” said Michael McGill, Special Agent-in-Charge of OIG’s Philadelphia Field Division. “Despite his best efforts to escape justice, Mr. Conn will ultimately be held accountable for defrauding SSA and U.S. taxpayers.”
Conn and two co-conspirators, Kentucky psychologist Alfred Adkins and former SSA administrative law judge David Daugherty, were charged in April 2016 with conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, false statements, money laundering and other related offenses in connection with the fraud scheme.
A jury convicted Adkins in June for his involvement in the scheme, and a judge sentenced him to 25 years in prison in September, perhaps the longest prison sentence ordered in relation to Social Security fraud to date.
Daugherty pleaded guilty to his involvement in the scheme in May, and a judge sentenced him to four years in prison in August.