Editorials

Eric Conn says life on the lam was ‘horrible.’ What about the lives of those he hurt?

Eric Conn was escorted by SWAT team agents prior to his extradition, at the Toncontin International Airport, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Conn, a fugitive Kentucky lawyer who escaped before facing sentencing for his central role in a massive Social Security fraud case, was captured as he came out of a Pizza Hut in the coastal city of La Ceiba.
Eric Conn was escorted by SWAT team agents prior to his extradition, at the Toncontin International Airport, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. Conn, a fugitive Kentucky lawyer who escaped before facing sentencing for his central role in a massive Social Security fraud case, was captured as he came out of a Pizza Hut in the coastal city of La Ceiba. AP

Eric C. Conn’s pitiful story is close to its final chapter. The former lawyer, now 57, will likely spend most of the rest of his natural days in federal prison for defrauding the Social Security system and fleeing from home detention in Pikeville while awaiting sentencing.

Conn told reporter Bill Estep that his six months as a fugitive in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras were “horrible.” Always looking over his shoulder, “I never got one true minute of relaxation.”

It’s hard to know where to start, but first must be the hundreds of families in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia whose lives remain upended because they entrusted their Social Security disability claims to him.

Many of them have trouble relaxing because they are still struggling to put their lives back together. The Social Security Administration is requiring hundreds represented by Conn to go through the certification process again. Since Conn destroyed many of the documents their cases relied upon this has been a time-consuming, arduous process.

And there are the honest lawyers volunteering to help these claimants — they probably don’t find trying to rebuild medical cases from years ago very relaxing.

And there are the two whistle blowers from the Social Security office in West Virginia who got only retribution for trying to alert superiors to the scam Conn was working with an administrative law judge there. Not too relaxing for them to contemplate the damages they’ve been awarded by a federal court that they will likely never collect.

The list goes on — there are the law enforcement agents who probably didn’t find searching for Conn very relaxing, not to mention we poor taxpayers who are footing the bill for not only the search but for his fraud, the cost of prosecuting it and ultimately housing him in a federal institution.

In a 42-page letter, Conn wrote that he suffered “painful guilt,” over his illegal acts. He praised the FBI, compared himself to Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” and Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind.”

But throughout this tedious, self-aggrandizing account he never expressed a word of concern for those he victimized.

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