Eric C. Conn, who calls himself Mr. Social Security, was indicted in a fraud case involving millions of dollars in Social Security payments. According to reports, the 55-year-old Eastern Kentucky attorney earned more than $22.7 million in legal fees from the Social Security Administration in a fraudulent scheme, which also involved Dr. Alfred Bradley Adkins, a psychologist, and David B. Daugherty, a Social Security Administration appeals judge. Authorities confirmed all three were criminally charged.
According to Kentucky News, a federal jury was presented with evidence that Conn, Adkins, and Daugherty conspired from 2004 to 2012 to form an elaborate scheme — which involved phony medical records and pushed hundreds of clients through the social security system for compensation.
The charges leveled against the trio include wire fraud, mail fraud, destruction of evidence, making false statements, and to retaliate against a witness and money laundering. If convicted, each man is facing a minimum of $250,000 in penalties and 20 years in prison. The U.S. government is also asking that the defendants forfeit over $11.67 million in assets.
Disability lawyer known as ‘Mr. Social Security’ indicted for defrauding Social Security of $600 million. https://t.co/WoKnKTxYhA
— Andrew G. Biggs (@biggsag) April 5, 2016
In May 2015, the Social Security Administration informed several hundred of Eric C. Conn’s clients that they were required to confirm their eligibility or risk losing their Social Security benefits. The agency implemented the measure, as they had reason to believe Mr. Social Security falsified information on his clients’ behalf.
Eric C. Conn submitted 3,143 cases from 2005 to 2011. At a time when approval rates were around 60 percent, Conn enjoyed an astounding 100 percent success rate. Although several cases were initially denied, they were approved during the appeal process by Judge David B. Daugherty.
The reportedly corrupt judge retired in 2011. However, before he retired, he had put over 8,413 people through the disability system — amounting to a lifetime estimate of $2.5 billion.
Eric C. Conn enjoyed a generous portion of the monies his clients collected. In addition to building a reputation as one of the most effective judges with the agency, Daugherty also profited from the scheme, as Mr. Social Security paid him an estimated $9,500 each month.
Even when Conn’s clients were assigned to other judges, Daugherty simply reassigned the cases to himself. He also expedited Mr. Social Security’s cases. In some cases, the judge even forewent a hearing. Senate investigators say his colleagues knew what he was doing, as was evidenced by several email exchanges.
— Lyle Mutter (@lyle_mutter) April 5, 2016
“The Eric Conn situation is going to bite this office in the butt one day,” a Social Security case technician warned in an email to Daugherty — who was her boss. The technician later confessed she was harassed and threatened by Mr. Social Security and Charlie Andrus, a chief judge.
According to reports, the men told the technician they got a private investigator to videotape her movements in an attempt to catch her doing something they could use to blackmail her.
Between 2004 and 2016, Eric C. Conn ‘s Eastern Kentucky clients received an estimated $600 million in funds from the Social Security Administration.
Mr. Social Security’s scheme was effective because he provided falsified evidence by using Adkins and two other people, who he referred to as “whore doctors.” A Senate report said Conn called them “whore doctors” because they were cheaper and easier to persuade since they were each sanctioned for past ethics violations.
Eric C. Conn always used doctors who had their license revoked, who had disciplinary histories, or who had faced malpractice lawsuits. His “whore doctors” reportedly prepared back-dated medical reports to make it appear that Mr. Social Security’s clients were disabled over a longer period of time and were unable to work. According to reports, the doctors were paid $300-$450 for each falsified document.
Some Senators blamed the Social Security Administration for giving administration law judges too much leeway to push appeals through the pipeline — without stringent verification. Senator Tom Coburn said fraudulent cases are depleting the Social Security Disability Trust Fund at an alarming rate.
“That means millions of disabled Americans will face benefit cuts while every American could see an increase in their payroll taxes and that is unacceptable. What is also outrageous, as this report details, is how well-heeled and well-connected lawyers, doctors and judges have gamed the system for their own benefit. Every bogus claim made on behalf of someone who is not truly disabled robs taxpayers and denies or delays benefits for someone who is truly disabled.”
If convicted, Eric C. Conn and his co-defendants are facing at least 20 years in prison and fines of at least $250,000. Mr. Social Security has not offered comment about the accusations.
[AP Photo/Evan Vucci]