(CN) – A Kentucky attorney pleaded guilty Friday for his role in a Social Security scheme that amassed over $550 million in fraudulent federal disability payments for thousands of his clients.
According to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice, Eric Conn of Pikeville, Ky., defrauded the government for over 12 years, from October 2004 to April 2016.
Conn and two others, David Black Daugherty and Alfred Bradley Adkins, were charged in the scheme last year. Prosecutors say the three men filed false and fraudulent medical paperwork with the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, to get the agency to pay claimants’ retroactive disability benefits and pay benefits into the future.
Daugherty is a former SSA administrative law judge who began working with the agency in 1990 and handled the claims of Kentucky residents, responsible for deciding whether they are entitled to benefits. He retired in 2011.
Conn is an attorney in Floyd County, Ky., whose firm handled mostly Social Security benefits cases. Adkins is a clinical psychologist who did medical evaluations for Conn from 2004 to 2011.
The indictment alleges that the three men wanted the SSA to disburse hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits in more than 2,000 cases, “irrespective of the claimants’ actual entitlement to benefits.”
Conn, 56, pleaded guilty Friday to one count of theft of government money and one count of payment of gratuities in the Eastern District Court of Kentucky.
According to the Justice Department, “Conn and his co-conspirators obligated the SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants for those fraudulent submissions.”
Conn admitted he falsified medical documents and paid physicians to sign fabricated medical forms, and that he received more than $5.7 million in representative fees from the SSA based on fraudulent claims. He will be sentenced on July 14.
The Justice Department has not announced pleas for Daugherty and Adkins.