A fugitive lawyer from Kentucky who was convicted of stealing millions of dollars from Social Security has been spotted at a gas station and Walmart store in New Mexico, the FBI says.
Eric Conn of Floyd County was sentenced in absentia Friday to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $170 million in restitution.
The FBI said it discovered that Conn fled using a truck owned and registered by an unnamed co-conspirator to a dummy company in Montana, and that the co-conspirator also supplied him with other materials.
The statement said there is no evidence that Conn has crossed the border into Mexico.
Amy Hess, the special agent in charge of the Louisville field office, said the FBI is working diligently to bring him to justice and that his flight from prosecution has “diminished any legitimacy and integrity he once held as an attorney and officer of the court.”
She said the FBI is seizing bank accounts and disrupting other means of support while pursuing law enforcement action against co-conspirators in his flight
The FBI has announced a reward of $20,000 for information leading to Conn’s arrest and released the surveillance photos of him Friday.
“It is in the best interest of anyone helping him to cooperate with law enforcement and avoid criminal charges for providing aid to him,” she said.
Conn’s electronic ankle monitoring device was found June 2 in a backpack on Interstate 75 in Lexington. He had been released on bond pending his sentencing.
Conn, 56, pleaded guilty in March to one count of stealing from the Social Security Administration and one count of paying illegal gratuities to a federal judge. He admitted he submitted false documentation for clients seeking disability payments and that he paid off a federal administrative law judge who approved the claims.
The federal rules of criminal procedure generally require criminal defendants to be present at all stages of a case, but there is an exception for when they voluntarily absent themselves.
Conn, who started his law practice in a trailer in 1993, portrayed himself as “Mr. Social Security.” He fueled that persona with outlandish TV commercials and small-scale replicas of the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Memorial at his office in eastern Kentucky.
Conn represented thousands in successful claims for Social Security benefits. Many of his clients in the impoverished coalfields of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia have fought to keep their disability checks.
Source: USA Today (Andrew Wolfson)
Photo Credit: The Herald-Dispatch
Photo Credit: WKYT
Photo Credit: Puhoi NZ