A Social Security disability lawyer recently pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain $550 million in federal disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for thousands of claimants.
According to the plea, from October 2004 to April 6, 2016, Eric Christopher Conn participated in a scheme with former SSA administrative law judge David B. Daugherty and multiple doctors that involved the submission of thousands of falsified medical documents to the SSA. As a result of the scheme, Conn and his co-conspirators obligated the SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants for these fraudulent submissions.
According to documents filed in connection with the guilty plea, Conn admitted that from December 2004 through April 2011, he paid Daugherty approximately $10,000 a month to award disability benefits to claimants for whom Conn submitted falsified medical documents.
As part of his plea, Conn admitted that he submitted the falsified medical documents, and Daugherty authored decisions granting disability benefits, in well over 1,700 claimants’ cases. Conn admitted that he paid medical professionals to sign medical forms that he fabricated before evaluations of claimants took place.
Also according to his plea, Conn admitted that he routinely prepared and medical professionals signed evaluation reports indicating that claimants had limitations considered disabling by the SSA, irrespective of the claimants’ actual physical or mental conditions. Conn admitted that he received more than $5.7 million in representative fees from the SSA based upon these fraudulent claims.
Conn and Daugherty were indicted last year and charged with conspiracy, fraud, false statements, money laundering and other related offenses in connection with the scheme. Several agencies are currently investigating the case. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.