February 19, 2013
Stanville attorney Eric C. Conn is accused of defrauding the government of millions of dollars through his disability claims.
In a story published Tuesday afternoon on the Lexington Herald-Leader’s website, a complaint was filed against Conn in U.S. District Court in Pikeville, alleging that Conn acquired payments from handling disability claims fraudulently approved by former West Virginia judge David Daugherty.
Daugherty and Conn’s relationship was brought to light in a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, and Daugherty himself was noted in a recent U.S. Senate investigative report into Social Security disability programs.
The minority staff report was put together by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for the United State Senate and entitled, “Social Security Disability Programs: Improving the Quality of Benefit Award Decisions.”
The report states that the committee found that there was significant stress being put on the Disability Trust Fund due partly to the fact that “the number of individuals receiving disability benefits continues to rise at an unprecedented rate.”
Daugherty was among those cited in the report. Daugherty was placed on indefinite administrative leave, before retiring in July 2011 amid controversy.
In the report, it lists “Virginia Case 267,” which was decided by Daugherty, “involved a hearing that lasted only three minutes, from 9:18 a.m. to 9:21 a.m.”
According to the report, the claimant was examined by a consultant, and then during the three-minute hearing, Daugherty appeared to ignore all the medical evidence provided by the consultant, favoring instead, the recommendations of a checklist form filled out by another doctor at the request of the claimant’s attorney.
At one point in the recorded testimony, Judge Daugherty had to remind the claimant that he saw the attorney’s doctor.
According to one court schedule dated Feb. 22, 2006, Daugherty held 20 hearings spaced 15 minutes apart for Conn and his clients in a Prestonsburg field office. The fee range for those approvals fell between $3,000 and $6,000.
Eric C. Conn was not available for comment.
The Floyd County Times will update this story as more information becomes available.