The investigation of the Social Security disability fraud scheme involving former Kentucky attorney Eric Conn continues to make headlines, including an update on Conn’s escape from home confinement and an unprecedented prison sentence for Social Security fraud.
An OIG investigation with the FBI, IRS, and Health and Human Services (HHS) OIG revealed Conn’s operation to get thousands of people approved for Social Security disability benefits, regardless of their condition. Because of the scheme, Conn and several co-conspirators accumulated millions of dollars in claimant-representative fees.
Conn and two co-conspirators were indicted in April 2016; since then, Conn fled authorities and remains a fugitive, and judicial actions have occurred against the scheme’s other key players.
Indictment: Accomplice Helped Conn Flee to Mexico Border
This week, Conn and an accomplice, Curtis Wyatt, were charged with various offenses related to Conn’s June 2 escape from home confinement. According to the Department of Justice, Wyatt delivered a vehicle to Conn the day before Conn escaped. Also, allegedly at Conn’s direction prior to Conn’s escape, Wyatt crossed into Mexico at two pedestrian checkpoints to assess security procedures for people leaving the United States.
Conn was ordered to home confinement after he pled guilty in March to his involvement in the scheme; he fled before his sentencing hearing, scheduled for July 14, and did not appear in court. A judge still sentenced Conn, in absentia, to 12 years in prison.
The FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to Conn’s arrest. Anyone with information relating to Conn’s whereabouts should contact their local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.
Wyatt pled not guilty to the charges related to Conn’s escape. He was released on bond pending his trial, scheduled for December 18.
Psychologist Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison
The Kentucky psychologist who participated in the scheme with Conn was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison, perhaps the longest prison sentence ordered in relation to Social Security fraud.
A judge ordered the sentence against Alfred Bradley Adkins on September 22. Adkins was remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons is assessing where he will serve his sentence. After a six-day trial in June, a jury convicted Adkins for his involvement. Adkins signed numerous fraudulent medical forms that Conn completed to support Social Security disability applications of individuals Conn represented; Conn paid Adkins about $200,000 for his participation.
Former SSA Judge Sentenced for Role in Scheme
Also, on August 25, a judge sentenced David Black Daugherty, a former SSA administrative law judge (ALJ), to four years in prison for working with Conn. Daugherty pled guilty in May. Daugherty was immediately taken into custody following his sentencing and is currently being held at the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility in Edgefield, South Carolina.
Daugherty, as an ALJ assigned to SSA’s Huntington, West Virginia hearing office, sought out pending disability cases for claimants Conn represented, reassigned those cases to himself, and ultimately approved the claims regardless of the claimant’s condition. Conn paid Daugherty more than $609,000 for granting benefits in his cases.