A former employee of Eric C. Conn was sentenced Friday to seven months in prison, with credit for time served, for helping the disability attorney escape the country to avoid sentencing in a federal fraud case.
Curtis Lee Wyatt, 48, of Pike County has already served three months in the Franklin County Regional Jail since pleading guilty in March to taking a number of steps to help Conn flee. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves sentenced Wyatt to serve an additional four months.
Wyatt must also pay a $400 fine and will be on supervised release for three years once he gets out of incarceration. Reeves ordered Wyatt to have no direct or indirect contact with anyone associated with Conn.
The steps Wyatt took to help Conn included opening a bank account used to move money out of the country, buying a pickup truck for Conn to use in escaping, and going through two pedestrian crossings from Arizona and New Mexico to Mexico to test security procedures at the border.
“I would like to apologize for any and all harm I may have caused,” Wyatt wrote in a letter to Judge Reeves. “I feel a deep sense of shame for what I have done.”
Thomas Lyons, Wyatt’s attorney, had asked the judge for a sentence of four months, with credit for three months served, plus one month of home incarceration. Lyons had argued in a memorandum that such a sentence “is sufficient but not greater than necessary to vindicate the objectives” of federal law.
In addition, Lyons said Wyatt does not have the resources to pay a fine in the range of $4,000 to $40,000 as recommended by law. Wyatt can pay the $400 fine imposed by Reeves in installments of $50 a month.
Lyons wrote that it will be difficult for Wyatt to find a job “given the fact that he now has a felony conviction, and the notoriety associated with his criminal conduct in this case.”
Conn, who once lived in Pikeville, was once one of the top Social Security disability lawyers in the country before admitting in March 2017 that he used fake medical evidence in clients’ cases and had bribed a Social Security judge who approved claims for thousands of people in Eastern Kentucky.
Conn was on home incarceration awaiting sentencing when he fled the country in June 2017 after spending the day in Lexington for a court-approved meeting with prosecutors.
Conn cut the electronic monitor from his ankle, put it in a bag designed to conceal the electronic signal, and threw it out by Interstate 75.
Wyatt had taken delivery of the bag and tested it for Conn.
Conn crossed the border into Mexico a few days after leaving Lexington and eventually made his way to Honduras, where authorities caught him in December after six months on the run.
Reeves sentenced Conn to 12 years in prison during the time he was gone.
Conn started serving that sentence when the FBI brought him back to the country.
Earlier this month Conn pleaded guilty to three additional charges, each with a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 7 on those charges.
Reeves told Wyatt that the victim in his case was the government.
“You imperiled a very important matter of litigation,” Reeves told Wyatt.