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Press Release

Former Clinical Psychologist Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison for Role in $550 Million Social Security Fraud Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

A former Kentucky clinical psychologist was sentenced today to 25 years in prison for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $550 million in federal disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for thousands of claimants.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General’s (SSA-OIG) Philadelphia Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI’s Louisville Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Tracey D. Montaño of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Nashville Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Regional Office made the announcement.

Alfred Bradley Adkins, 46, of Pikeville, Kentucky, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky, who also ordered Adkins to pay restitution of over $93 million to the SSA and HHS.  Adkins was found guilty following a six-day trial in June 2017 of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements.

According to trial evidence, beginning in 2004, David Black Daugherty, an SSA administrative law judge assigned to the SSA Huntington, West Virginia, hearing office, sought out pending disability cases in which Kentucky attorney Eric Christopher Conn represented claimants and often reassigned those cases to himself.  Daugherty then contacted Conn and identified the cases he intended to decide the following month and further solicited Conn to provide either physical or mental medical documentation supporting disability determinations, whether or not the claimants were actually disabled.  When mental medical documentation was requested, Conn solicited Adkins to sign medical evaluation forms that Conn had previously prepared.  Without first reviewing these forms, Adkins signed them; Conn subsequently forwarded the forms to the SSA, primarily to Daugherty, in support of disability determinations.  Conn, in turn, paid Daugherty more than $609,000 for granting benefits in his cases, and almost $200,000 to Adkins for signing the fraudulent forms. For his part, Conn received more than $7 million in related attorney’s fees.

As a result of the scheme, Adkins, Conn, Daugherty and others obligated the SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants based upon cases Daugherty approved for which he received payment from Conn.   

Adkins was indicted last year, along with Conn and Daugherty. The defendants were charged with conspiracy, fraud, false statements, money laundering and other related offenses in connection with the scheme.  Daugherty pleaded guilty in May 2017 to a two-count information charging him with receiving illegal gratuities, and was sentenced on August 25, to 4 years in prison.

Conn pleaded guilty on March 24, to a two-count information charging him with theft of government money and paying illegal gratuities, and was sentenced on July 14 to 12 years in prison.  Conn subsequently absconded from electronic monitoring on June 2, and is considered a fugitive.  Conn remains charged under the original indictment.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to the arrest of Eric Christopher Conn.  Anyone with information relating to Conn’s whereabouts should contact their local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  

The SSA-OIG, FBI, IRS-CI and HHS-OIG investigated the case. Trial Attorney Dustin M. Davis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Elizabeth G. Wright of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case, with previous co-counsel including Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford of the Western District of Missouri and Investigative Counsel Kristen M. Warden of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

Updated September 22, 2017

Press Release Number: 17-1046