Lexington, Kentucky - Former fugitive and social security disability lawyer Eric Christopher Conn, 58, of Pikeville, Kentucky, was sentenced in September to a total of 27 years in prison for his role in retaliating against an informant, fleeing from the United States, and defrauding the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) of more than $550 million. When he went to prison, however, approximately 6,000 to 7,000 client files relating to claims for social security benefits remained in his former Kentucky law office.
The building and land was forfeited to the United States and will be sold. Before the building can be sold, the client files had to be removed and ultimately distributed to his former clients – a daunting task made even more difficult by the fact that they are attorney-client privileged materials.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director Timothy Virtue of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Asset Forfeiture Division announced Thursday that two Receivers were selected by Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky on October 12, and that the Receivers have now successfully removed the files from the law office property to begin their inventory and distribution. The files were located in the property that formerly housed Conn’s law practice at 9420 US Highway 23 South, Stanville, Kentucky.
Judge Reeves appointed veteran attorneys Cary B. Howard and Barry Stilz, of the law firm Kinkead & Stilz, in Lexington, Kentucky, as the Court’s Receivers after the Kentucky State Bar refused to take on the project. The Court directed the Receivers to collect, inventory, and to the extent possible, distribute the files to Conn’s former clients.
The case was investigated by the SSA Office of Inspector General, FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General. Deputy Chief Darrin L. McCullough and Trial Attorney Rebecca Caruso of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are handling the forfeiture portion of the case, with previous forfeiture co-counsel including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ann Marie Blaylock of the Western District of Kentucky, Elizabeth G. Wright of the District of Maryland, and Trey Alford of the Western District of Missouri, as well as Investigative Counsel Kristen M. Warden of the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. Lead counsel on the criminal case was Trial Attorney Dustin M. Davis of the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section.