(CN) – A Kentucky lawyer who masterminded a $600 million Social Security fraud scheme has been indicted for his alleged escape from home arrest across the Mexican border, prosecutors said Wednesday, and another man pleaded not guilty to helping him.
Eric Conn, 56, of Pikeville, Ky., had been under house arrest after he pleaded guilty in March to theft of government money and paying illegal gratuities for his part in the Social Security conspiracy.
Prosecutors say Conn, a former judge and a psychologist filed false and fraudulent medical paperwork with the U.S. Social Security Administration to get the agency to pay claimants’ retroactive disability benefits and pay benefits into the future.
According to a U.S. Justice Department announcement Wednesday, Conn was able to remove a monitoring device from his ankle during a visit to Lexington, Ky., on June 2, and then fled to Mexico using a car provided by an alleged accomplice, Curtis Wyatt.
“Wyatt, at Conn’s direction and prior to Conn’s escape, crossed into Mexico at two different pedestrian checkpoints to assess security procedures for individuals exiting the United States in an effort to aid Conn in escaping prior to Conn’s sentencing hearing,” the Justice Department says.
Conn failed to appear at his July 14 sentencing hearing and is still a fugitive.
Wyatt, 47, appeared in Eastern Kentucky federal court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to two charges that Conn was also indicted on: conspiracy to escape and conspiracy to fail to appear for sentencing. He also pleaded guilty to additional charges of assisting in Conn’s escape, aiding and abetting Conn’s failure to appear, and making a false statement to the FBI.
Wyatt was released on bond after being indicted for his part in Conn’s alleged escape. His trial is set for Dec. 18.
According to prosecutors, Conn conspired with the clinical psychologist and former Social Security administrative law judge to generate $600 million in fraudulent federal disability payments from 2004 to 2016.
Conn previously admitted that he had received over $5.7 million in representative fees from the Social Security Administration based on fraudulent claims.