Hot women and a respectable life.
That was the prospect disgraced disability attorney Eric C. Conn dangled in front of a former employee as he urged the man to join Conn’s flight to Central America to avoid prison.
The former employee, Curtis Lee Wyatt, was facing charges for helping Conn escape when Conn sent him an email last October, according to documents filed this week in federal court.
Conn said he was saddened by the charges against Wyatt and tried to persuade him to sneak away and meet Conn.
“Here you will have a respectable life and live well,” Conn told Wyatt. “Further, the women here are hot, hot.”
Conn didn’t say in that email where “here” was, but police caught up with him in a city on the coast of Honduras about six weeks later.
Conn has gotten nationwide attention after admitting he took part in one of the biggest frauds in the history of the Social Security program, but his effort to get Wyatt to join him on the lam hadn’t been disclosed in federal court until this week.
A copy of the email was attached to a motion signed by prosecutor Dustin M. Davis in preparation for Conn’s sentencing, which is scheduled for Sept. 7.
Conn, 58, who lived in Pikeville, was once one of the top disability attorneys in the nation, helping thousands of people in Eastern Kentucky get benefits.
In March 2017, however, he admitted he submitted false documentation for clients and bribed a Social Security judge who approved the claims.
The scheme would have obligated Social Security to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits if the fraud hadn’t been discovered.
Conn initially pleaded guilty to two charges as part of a deal for a 12-year sentence, but fled in June 2017 before being sentenced.
Conn kept up with developments back home, however, sending emails to the Herald-Leader indicating he’d seen coverage of his escape.
While he was on the run, a grand jury charged Conn with escaping and Wyatt, 48, with helping him.
Wyatt bought a 2002 Dodge pickup truck for Conn to use in his getaway and walked across the Mexican border at crossings in Arizona and New Mexico to see what kind of identification Conn would need.
A few days after the indictment became public in October, Conn responded to an email from Wyatt, telling Wyatt that authorities were getting ready “to lay one on you” and that there was “no realistic scenario” in which the case would turn out well for him.
“Your choice is all too obvious,’’ Conn wrote. “Come here and enjoy life and make a decent living, have respectability, and get a good woman or good . . . .” (The prosecutor’s motion did not include the rest of the message).
Conn said if money was an issue, he might be able to get some to Wyatt to help with the trip.
He also promised that once Wyatt left the U.S. he would provide someone to escort him to Conn.
“Life is too short to go thru this especially when you don’t have to do so,” Conn told Wyatt. “I do not understand what is holding you other than perhaps some hope for a miracle. Not too many of them going around.”
If Wyatt had fled, it would have precluded the possibility of him making a deal with prosecutors to testify against Conn. Those types of arrangements are common in criminal cases.
Wyatt pleaded guilty to helping Conn escape, but there is nothing in the public court record about him agreeing to testify against Conn, who pleaded guilty later.
Wyatt is serving a seven-month sentence.
After police caught Conn, he told the Herald-Leader that he had some adventures while he was a fugitive, but his description of having to look over his shoulder didn’t sound like the good life he had described to Wyatt.
“Honestly, honestly, it was horrible,” Conn said. “I never got one minute of relaxation.”
Police caught Conn on Dec. 2 at a Pizza Hut in Honduras and brought him back to Kentucky.