Former Eastern Kentucky disability lawyer Eric C. Conn will face prosecution on more than a dozen federal charges that could keep him behind bars for life if he is convicted.
Conn, 57, would have avoided the charges if he had stuck to the to deal he made in pleading guilty on related charges.
Instead, Conn fled while on home detention as he awaited sentencing, and he was gone for six months.
Federal prosecutor Dustin M. Davis filed notice Wednesday that the government will try Conn on an 18-count indictment that includes charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and destroying evidence in a federal investigation.
Understanding that development requires some history.
Conn once had one of the biggest practices in the country specializing in representing people seeking disability payments from the Social Security Administration.
However, a grand jury charged in April 2016 that he had engaged in fraud on a staggering scale, submitting false evidence of his clients’ physical and mental impairments.
That was the 18-count indictment.
Conn ultimately struck a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to two charges that weren’t in the original indictment.
Those were stealing from the government and paying more than $600,000 in illegal gratuities to David B. Daugherty, a Social Security judge who rubber-stamped cases for Conn.
That deal included a 12-year sentence for Conn.
He also was supposed to testify against Bradley Adkins, a Pikeville psychologist charged with signing forms for Conn clients that included fraudulent information.
The agreement called for prosecutors to dismiss the original 18-count indictment when Conn was sentenced in July if he had stuck to the deal.
However, Conn absconded from home detention on June 2, cutting the electronic monitor from his ankle and fleeing.
In July, U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced Conn in absentia to 12 years in prison.
Police caught him Dec. 2 at a Pizza Hut in Honduras, and the FBI flew him back to Kentucky to face charges.
The original 18-count indictment against Conn remains in effect, and the government intends to prosecute Conn on it, Davis said in his motion.
Conn’s attorney, Scott White, said the decision was not unexpected.
White said a motion to dismiss the government’s decision to prosecute Conn under the first indictment “is one we are looking at very closely.”
Conn was charged with escape and related charges while he was gone. The trial in that case is scheduled in February.
The government wants to prosecute Conn in that case before going to trial on the original charges, Davis said.