Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) July 19, 2016 - On June 13 a Social Security judge pleaded guilty to conspiring to retaliate against a former Social Security Administration (SSA) worker who was an informant to federal agents investigating fraud.
The employee blew the whistle on a scheme devised by Kentucky disability lawyer Eric Conn. Conn obtained over $600 million in fraudulent SSA disability payments for thousands of individuals regardless of whether they were eligible for benefits or not. He allegedly falsified medical evidence to make clients appear disabled. The lawyer also paid physicians to approve bogus reports.
“Fraudulent claims for disability benefits are definitely one of the biggest problems the SSA is facing,” said David W. Magann, a prominent attorney in Tampa, Florida, whose firm specializes in Social Security disability law. “Although the administration is cracking down on those who fake disabilities or hide income from the government, it will take time to ensure that the system is corruption-free and that those who are actually eligible for benefits, receive them."
The SSA is now reviewing the cases of more than 1,500 of Conn’s clients. Conn also allegedly paid David Black Daugherty up to $9,500 to approve benefits for his clients. Daugherty is an administrative law judge in the Huntington, West Virginia, SSA office. Conn and Daugherty were indicted in April on 18 counts including conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.
Daughtery’s boss was Charlie Paul Andrus, the former chief administrative law judge for the Huntington SSA office. Investigators said the administration demoted Andrus from his position after federal agents went to the office in May 2011 to collect evidence in a corruption investigation involving Conn and Daugherty.
Andrus admitted in court that he was humiliated by the investigation and an accompanying Wall Street Journal article criticizing the Huntington office. He allegedly knew an office worker was providing investigators with information.
According to court documents, Andrus and Conn devised a plan to hire a private investigator to spy on the whistleblower. They intended to retaliate against the employee by gathering enough proof to have the individual fired. Andrus is awaiting sentencing as part of a plea deal. He could face a $250,000 fine, up to 10 years in prison or both.
David W. Magann, P.A.
156 W. Robertson St.
Brandon, FL 33511
Call: (813) 657-9175
4012 Gunn Highway #165
Tampa, Florida 33618
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