Exposure of $550 million scheme is a win in fight against improper payments.
Officials laboring in the governmentwide effort to thwart improper payments could take satisfaction in Friday’s Justice Department announcement that a Kentucky attorney who had pleaded guilty to seeking to defraud Society Security of $550 million drew a prison sentence of 12 years.
But the chief conspirator is on the lam.
Eric Christopher Conn, 56, of Pikeville, Ky., in a case that was the subject of a 2013 Senate hearing and a “60 Minutes expose,” had pleaded guilty in March to a scheme in which SSA administrative law Judge David Daugherty and multiple doctors were paid as much as $10,000 per month to submit falsified medical documents to the SSA to make 1,700 claims for lifetime benefits.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky passed down the prison sentence and required Conn to pay restitution of more than $106 million to the Social Security Administration and the Health and Human Services Department. Conn, however, was not present the sentencing, having fled federal custody on June 2. He remains a fugitive.
Conn had admitted he received more than $5.7 million in representative fees from the SSA based upon these fraudulent claims. He was charged with conspiracy, fraud, false statements, money laundering and related offenses.
Judge Daugherty pleaded guilty in May to receiving illegal gratuities and awaits sentencing. As part of the same investigation, conspiracy and mail and wire fraud charges were brought against clinical psychologist Alfred Bradley Adkins, whose sentencing is also pending.
The resolution was announced by acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, along with SSA inspector general Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of Philadelphia; Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI’s Louisville, Ky., Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Tracey D. Montaño of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation office in Nashville; and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of HHS Office of the Inspector General in Atlanta.
The investigation and prosecution also involved Attorney Dustin Davis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, as well as Trial Attorney Elizabeth G. Wright of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section. They were assisted by assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford of the Western District of Missouri and Investigative Counsel Kristen M. Warden of the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General.
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