A Social Security disability lawyer pleaded guilty in federal court Friday for participating in a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration of $550 million in federal disability payments for thousands of claimants.
Eric Christopher Conn, 56, of Pikeville, Kentucky, entered a guilty plea on one count of theft of government money and one count of payment of gratuities.
Details of the plea revealed that Conn participated in a scheme from October 2004 to April 2016 with former SSA administrative law judge David B. Daugherty and multiple doctors in which they submitted thousands of falsified medical documents to the SSA.
As a result of the scheme, Conn and his co-conspirators duped the SSA into paying more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants for the fraudulent submissions.
Conn has been an attorney for over 20 years in Floyd County, Kentucky, primarily representing people seeking Social Security disability benefits. According to court documents, Conn conceded that from December 2004 through April 2011, he paid Daugherty approximately $10,000 a month to award disability benefits to clients for whom Conn submitted falsified medical documents.
Conn also admitted that he and the judge carried out their scheme in over 1,700 cases in which Conn paid medical professionals to sign forms that he fabricated prior to claimants’ evaluations.
Conn routinely prepared forms that medical professionals signed indicating that claimants had conditions considered disabling by the SSA, despite the claimants’ actual physical or mental conditions. Conn received over $5.7 million in representative fees from the SSA based upon fraudulent claims.
Conn and Daugherty were indicted last year and charged with conspiracy, fraud, false statements, money laundering and other related offenses.
Conn will be sentenced on July 14, 2017.
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