Controversial Floyd County lawyer Eric C. Conn was arrested Monday by the FBI on an undisclosed federal charge, according to officials at the Pike County jail.
The jail’s website said Conn was booked at 7:12 p.m. and listed the FBI as the arresting agency.
Chase Snodgrass, a lieutenant at the jail, said he heard a federal agent tell Conn he would return for him Tuesday morning, apparently to take him to an initial court hearing.
The federal court website did not list a charge against Conn, raising the potential that he was arrested on a sealed charge.
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Conn’s attorney, James Deckard, declined to comment Monday evening.
Huntington television station WSAZ reported early Tuesday, without citing a source, that the charges against Conn are conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, conspiracy to retaliate against a witness, destruction of records in a federal investigation, false statements, transactional money laundering, and conspiracy to structure currency transactions.
Conn has been the subject of allegations of fraudulent conduct in representing people in Social Security disability claims. (See our 2013 profile of Eric Conn: Eastern Kentucky lawyer earned millions in fees through ‘disability scheme,’ investigators say)
In 2013, a U.S. Senate investigation alleged that his firm had submitted medical evidence from doctors who did not properly examine some people and that Conn improperly colluded with a Social Security judge to get claims approved.
Mark Wohlander, a Lexington attorney representing two former Social Security employees in a false claims lawsuit against Conn, said federal authorities recently interviewed his clients.
Jennifer Griffith and Sarah Carver raised concerns about collusion between Conn and David Daugherty, the Social Security judge.
Last May, the Social Security Administration notified hundreds of Conn’s former clients that it would cut off their disability checks and redetermine their eligibility. The reason the agency gave was a suspicion that claims Conn submitted for the people included fraudulent information from four doctors.
The agency ultimately said it would redetermine whether nearly 1,800 people, most of them in Eastern Kentucky, should continue getting disability checks.
The news was a shock in the region because disability income is a major piece of the economy.
After a request by U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican who represents the region, Social Security officials decided to continue people’s disability checks while redetermining their eligibility.
Those redetermination hearings are continuing.
However, Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf, who represents some of Conn’s former clients facing the loss of disability benefits, said Monday that he would seek to suspend the hearings in light of what appears to be criminal charges against Conn.