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DOJ Catch of the Week -- $600M Social Security Fraudsters

Posted  April 8, 2016

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

This week’s Department of Justice “Catch of the Week” goes to the retired administrative law judge, lawyer and a psychologist who were charged Tuesday for their alleged roles in a Kentucky-centered scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $600 million in Social Security disability payments.  According to IRS Special Agent Tracey D. Montaño, “the allegations in this case describe a gross abuse of a system that was established to provide assistance to those truly in need.”  See DOJ Press Release.

According to the federal indictment, Eric Christopher Conn, David Black Daugherty and Alfred Bradley Adkins conspired to submit fraudulent medical documentation to the Social Security Administration to secure more than $600 million in disability benefits irrespective of the claimants’ actual entitlement to benefits.  They allegedly received more than $5 million for their efforts during the nearly eight-year scheme.  Conn is an attorney whose firm focuses on representing individuals seeking Social Security disability benefits; Adkins is a clinical psychologist who performed medical evaluations for Conn; and Daugherty is a former SSA administrative law judge who decided the entitlement to benefits for many of the scheme’s claimants.

As part of the scheme, Conn allegedly filed disability applications where Daugherty could either self-assign them or direct others to assign the cases to him.  Daugherty allegedly solicited Conn to submit falsified medical evidence to support Daugherty’s decisions.  Adkins and others purportedly performed pretextual physical and mental evaluations and prepared evaluations indicating covered disabilities irrespective of claimants’ actual physical or mental conditions.  The indictment further alleges that once the enforcement investigation began, Conn destroyed and directed others to destroy evidence, including federal reports, a computer tower and other electronic hardware and media located at his law firm.

In announcing the indictment, the government stressed its commitment to “uphold[ing] the integrity of Social Security’s disability programs, which are a lifeline for so many Americans and their families.”  The government specifically pointed to Kentucky, where much of this scheme was carried out, as a State with a “historical willingness to accept corruption as the status quo,” and how the government’s enforcement proceeding is an important step “toward ending public corruption and taking back the commonwealth from those who corrupt it.”

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