Prominent Kentucky disability attorney Eric Conn has been captured in Honduras after a massive manhunt. He had been awaiting sentencing–after pleading guilty in March to defrauding Social Security of over a half a billion dollars –when he cut off his electronic monitor and vanished in June.
Officials described Conn’s dramatic capture by a SWAT team as he exited a restaurant in the coastal city of La Ceiba on Monday. They said the arrest was the “product of arduous intelligence, surveillance and tailing by the agents.”
The story in El Heraldo, a Honduran news outlet, said Conn was nabbed by the country’s Technical Agency for Criminal Investigation or ATIC. The report included photos of Conn with masked ATIC agents standing over him.
Conn pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge in the $550 million Social Security fraud case. The shady attorney was on home detention in Lexington, Kentucky, awaiting sentencing, when he took off. His sentencing went on without him last summer, and he was given the maximum: a 12-year prison term.
The majority of Conn’s clients lived in the impoverished coalfields of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.
The FBI office in Louisville, Kentucky, did not confirm the arrest Monday, and Conn’s lawyer, Scott White, said he’d had no communication from the United States.
“If in fact Eric has been lawfully captured and is legally returned, then, as I told you in June, this comes as no surprise … the FBI usually gets their man,” White said. Conn is expected to be transferred to the United States on Tuesday, according to the Honduran public magistrate’s office.
Honduran officials confirm they have captured fugitive Kentucky lawyer Eric Conn. Here’s @KentuckyCIR‘s look at why he was allowed out on bond in the first place: https://t.co/nuGcA4g69K pic.twitter.com/lC6aPNitxR
— Eleanor Klibanoff (@eklib) December 5, 2017
Conn called himself “Mr. Social Security” in his famously outlandish TV commercials and sported small-scale replicas of the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Memorial at his office in eastern Kentucky.
The well-known attorney fell from grace after investigators discovered he had been bribing a doctor and judge to approve disability claims based on fake medical evidence.
Ned Pillersdorf, an eastern Kentucky attorney who now represents hundreds of Conn’s former clients, said Conn’s scheme caused a “true humanitarian crisis.” Most of them were threatened with the loss of their disability checks.
“With his capture, I’m hoping we can get this ordeal behind us, put him in prison where he belongs and start to undo the damage he has done to his former clients,” Pillersdorf said in a phone interview Monday night.
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