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Kentucky Disability Lawyer Takes Fifth Before Senate Committee; Former Huntington Judge Leaves
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hears testimony from doctors, judges, and administrators on a Social Security Disability Insurance fraud investigation in Ohio and Kentucky.
Three Senators on the committee will unveil a report on the two-year investigation that implicates judges and doctors in defrauding the Social Security Administration by approving an unusually high number of disability claims.
Here's the Executive Summary:The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee heard testimony from doctors, judges, and administrators on a Social Security Disability Insurance fraud investigation in Ohio and Kentucky.
Three Senators on the committee unveiled a report on the two-year investigation that implicates judges and doctors in defrauding the Social Security Administration by approving an unusually high number of disability claims.EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
In 1993, Eric Christopher Conn opened a legal practice in a small trailer next door to his boyhood home in rural Eastern Kentucky. Located in Stanville, Kentucky, along Highway 23, his office was two hours from the closest major city and over an hour from the Social Security’s main regional office in Huntington, West Virginia. Despite operating in a sparsely populated town of 500, Mr. Conn would go on to build one of the largest and most lucrative disability practices in the nation. A two-year investigation of his actions representing claimants applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits uncovered a raft of improper practices by the Conn law firm to obtain disability benefits, inappropriate collusion between Mr. Conn and a Social Security Administrative Law Judge, and inept agency oversight which enabled the misconduct to continue for years. From the beginning, Mr. Conn focused his efforts primarily – and later exclusively – on helping people onto the Social Security Administration’s (“SSA”) disability program rolls. His knack for navigating the program’s arcane rules, along with an aggressive approach to marketing that included television, radio, and online advertisements, drew thousands of clients to his office looking to obtain benefits. At the height of his success in 2010, Mr. Conn employed nearly 40 people and obtained more than $3.9 million in legal fees from SSA, making him the agency’s third highest paid disability lawyer that year. Today, the Eric C. Conn Law Complex is significantly larger than the single trailer used twenty years earlier. Several interconnected trailers now surround a main office building. A prominent feature of the complex is a large replica of the Abraham Lincoln statute in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., which has become a local tourist attraction us ed to recruit clients. Mr. Conn, referred to in some of his advertisements as “Mr. Social Security,” used his law practice to exploit key vulnerabilities in a critical federal safety net program and became wealthy in the process.
Concern about Mr. Conn’s methods first surfaced publicly in May 2011, when The Wall Street Journal published an article about his relationship with David B. Daugherty, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in the SSA’s regional Huntington, West Virginia Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. In the years leading up to 2011, Judge Daugherty had become one of the agency’s highest producing judges, issuing more decisions each year than nearly all 1,500 of SSA’s other judges. In some years, 40 percent of his caseload consisted of cases represented by Mr. Conn – nearly all of which he approved for benefits.
Public airing of the details surrounding the unusual arrangement between Judge Daugherty and Mr. Conn prompted top SSA officials to request an investigation by the SSA Inspector General. Judge Daugherty was also placed on administrative leave, after which he quickly resigned. http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=0d1ad28a-fd8a-4aca-93bd-c7bf9543af36
- See more at: http://www.c-span.org/Events/Senate-Committee-Looks-at-Social-Security-Disability-Fraud/10737441908-1/#sthash.RpIXCzIh.dpuf