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Social Security Fraud Charges Snare Ex-Judge

(CN) - A retired judge, a lawyer and a psychologist accused of stealing millions of dollars in disability payments were indicted on fraud charges, prosecutors said.

David Black Daugherty, Eric Christopher Conn and Alfred Bradley Adkins were charged April 1 with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. The 18-count indictment was unsealed Tuesday.

Conn, 55, also faces obstruction, false statements and money laundering charges, while Daugherty, 81, faces an additional money laundering charge. Adkins, 44, is also accused of making false statements.

Prosecutors say the three men filed false and fraudulent medical paperwork with the U.S. Social Security Administration (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 handles 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 over $600 million in benefits in more than 2,000 cases, "irrespective of the claimants' actual entitlement to benefits," according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Conn allegedly filed disability applications through a certain field office in Kentucky to bring the cases before the Huntington, W.Va., hearing office, where cases were assigned to Daugherty.

Daugherty is accused of asking Conn to file falsified medical evidence so the judge could issue a favorable ruling. Adkins and others helped with physical and mental evaluations of claimants, prosecutors say.

Conn, Adkins and Daugherty allegedly netted over $5 million throughout the eight-year scheme.

Once a law enforcement investigation began, Conn allegedly threatened someone who gave truthful information to investigators. He is also accused of destroying evidence, including federal reports, a computer tower and other electronic material at his law firm.

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