by Judge London
Crime does not pay. Attorney Eric C. Conn recently found this out the hard way. Conn was a millionaire only a few months ago. Now he’s broke and behind bars convicted of fraud and bribery. He dubbed himself “Mr. Social Security” and collected more than $7 million in payments for filing bogus Social Security Disability Claims from 2004 to 2011.
In a total denial of all personal responsibility, this former millionaire was brazen enough to ask for a public defender. That is about as brazen as a man who murders his parents and then throws himself upon the mercy of the Court on the grounds he is now an orphan. That takes more than a lot of nerve. It is beyond audacity, gall, and even guts. This man has chutzpah.
A Public Defender is an attorney-at-law appointed by the courts and provided by the State or Federal Governments to represent the poor and indigent who cannot afford to hire a private attorney. This is Legal Aid. It is a form of Charity. How far the mighty Mr. Social Security has fallen.
He filed a motion December 29, 2017, in federal court requesting the appointment of a Public Defender. One of the listed rights granted and guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment is the right to counsel; the right for defendants who are on trial for criminal charges to have legal aid in federal courts.
Conn filed Court documents stating the U.S. Government had seized all his property. He also stated he had $40,000.00 in an anonymous bank account in the Bank of Guatemala. However, once taken into custody, he was no longer able to withdraw the money.
Former football superstar, O J Simpson, was reported to have $12 Million at the time he was charged with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman. He hired a Dream Team of criminal lawyers to defend him led by F. Lee Bailey and Johnny Cochran. The Dream Team succeeded in securing a verdict of “Not Guilty” for Simpson. A Public Defender is a far cry from a Dream Team.
Conn pleaded Guilty on March 24, 2016, to a two-count Information charging him with theft of government money and paying illegal gratuities to a Federal Judge. Once released on bail, he jumped bail June 2017. However, he was captured outside of a Pizza Hut in Honduras December 2017.
He was sentenced in absentia on July 14th to 12 years in prison. He was ordered to repay $5.7 million to the US Government Treasury and $45.5 million to the Social Security Administration Trust Fund.
Conn marketed himself as “Mr. Social Security”. He represented thousands of East Kentucky citizens seeking Social Security Disability Benefits. Their claims were approved in almost 100% of the cases because Judge David Daugherty approved them without holding hearings. Other judges reversed most of those cases after additional hearings.
Tragically some of the Claimants have committed suicide. They barely existed on payments of about $800 per month. Now they have lost their benefits and the canceling of their Health Insurance Coverage. The Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped paying those benefits and demanded repayment. The average demand is for $100,000.00.
A judge ruled Conn violated the terms of his bond when he fled to Honduras. He has been forced to forfeit the property put up for his bail. That includes his Floyd County law complex, valued at $659,100.
How the mighty have fallen. Like Humpty Dumpty, Eric Conn has had a great fall. Admittedly, a man with such chutzpah will be able to put himself back together again. Since crime doesn’t pay, perhaps he will pursue a legitimate business next time.