Lexington, Kentucky, Jury Convicts Clinical Psychologist for Role in $600 Million Social Security Disability Fraud Scheme
A federal jury in Lexington, Kentucky, today convicted a clinical psychologist for his role in a Social Security disability fraud scheme that included a former Social Security Administration (SSA) administrative law judge and that involved the submission of thousands of falsified medical documents to the SSA, obligating the SSA to pay more than $600 million in lifetime benefits to claimants predicated on these fraudulent submissions.
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, Kentucky, Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Tracey D. Montaño of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) Nashville, Tennessee, Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Derrick Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General’s (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Regional Office made the announcement.
“Today’s jury verdict holds accountable the final defendant for his role in the largest scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration in its history,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco. “Each defendant abused the trust placed in him as a professional for personal gain. We thank our law enforcement partners for their years-long investigation and commitment to this case.”
After a one-week trial in federal court in Lexington, the jury convicted Alfred Bradley Adkins, 45, of Shelbiana, Kentucky, 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. Sentencing has been scheduled for September 22, before U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky, who presided over the trial.
According to evidence presented at trial, Adkins conspired with former SSA administrative law judge David Black Daugherty and former Kentucky lawyer Eric Christopher Conn to defraud the U.S. Conn and Adkins submitted false and fraudulent medical documentation to the SSA, and Daugherty awarded disability benefits based on the same, in order to have the SSA pay claimants’ retroactive disability benefits, continue to pay claimants’ disability benefits in the future, award Medicare and Medicaid benefits to claimants, and pay Conn’s attorney fees (enabling him to pay Adkins), the evidence showed. The trial evidence demonstrated that the conspirators’ actions obligated the SSA to pay more than $600 million in disability benefits in more than 2,000 cases to claimants in Kentucky and elsewhere, irrespective of the claimants’ actual entitlement to benefits. During the nearly eight-year scheme, Conn received more than $7.5 million of taxpayer dollars in attorney’s fees, and paid more than $600,000 to Daugherty, and approximately $200,000 to Adkins, the evidence showed.
According to the trial evidence, Adkins performed perfunctory evaluations of claimants referred to him by Conn and used boilerplate reports to detail conditions to support disability findings. Additionally, the trial evidence showed that Adkins, at Conn’s request, altered his findings on certain reports and ultimately signed forms prepared by Conn purporting to show that claimants qualified for disability benefits, whether or not they did. Conn then submitted these artificially disabling reports and falsified forms to Daugherty and other administrative law judges in support of disability determinations.
Conn pleaded guilty on March 24, to a two-count information charging him with theft of government money and payment of illegal gratuities, and Daugherty pleaded guilty on May 12, to a two-count information charging him with receipt of illegal gratuities. Both Conn and Daugherty are awaiting sentencing.
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.