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June 3, 2015

Louisa woman who is also one of the suspended SS beneficiaries, stated: "I have cried now for over two weeks, because of this, every time I think about it."

A Floyd County attorney, who is part of a group of lawyers who are filing motions for an emergency injunction to block the Social Security Administration from suspending benefits to more than 900 claimants and relatives, said one of his clients committed suicide this week as a direct result of the suspensions.

Attorney Ned Pillersdorf, of Prestonsburg, Kentucky, confirmed news of the suicide Tuesday. He cited the man's widow in saying the client shot himself Monday at his Ivel, Kentucky, home in Floyd County.

Pillersdorf also noted the unconfirmed report of another suicide linked to the benefit suspensions in Pike County, Kentucky. He urged any overwhelmed clients to contact a medical professional or suicide hotline.

"I've been worried about this from day one," he said. "Just the client contact, the panicked voicemails, text messages, emails, the parade of people in my office - we've been worried about this."

Such concern follows the Social Security Administration's move to suspend disability benefits for more than 900 people during a review of approximately 1,500 cases, all linked to Kentucky attorney Eric C. Conn and former Social Security administrative judge David B. Daugherty of Huntington.

It stems from an Inspector General's investigation that revealed evidence of fraud involving four doctors used by The Conn Law Firm in Stanville, Kentucky.

Congressional investigators allege Conn relied upon those medical experts for false or fraudulent testimony, while Daugherty assigned those cases to himself and awarded benefits to hundreds without justification.

Social Security's initial review found none of the estimated 1,500 people qualified for disability benefits based upon evidence not associated with the four doctors.

That triggered a redetermination of benefits for the 1,500 recipients, more than 900 of whom received immediate suspensions pending the final outcome of their review.

Pillersdorf didn't dispute the government's need to re-evaluate the cases, but said last week he fears that process will take up to a year and half. That prompted his federal, class-action lawsuit in hopes of reinstating benefits until a hearing can be held.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., called upon Social Security to give each person more time to provide medical records to support their original claim, according to letters sent to Social Security's Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin.

The agency initially gave each recipient 10 days to provide additional evidence, which would be forwarded to appellate operations and onto an administrative law judge if the case is assigned for a hearing.

"While we remain concerned about the alleged fraud and abuse of (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits, we believe consideration should be provided to those individuals that are rightfully receiving benefits," the congressmen wrote. "Ten days may not be enough time."

Pillersdorf's federal action represents one of two, class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of the more than 900 with immediate suspensions. The other targets Conn accusing the attorney of negligence and fraud.

Pillersdorf's class won a temporary restraining order Tuesday in the state case. It blocks Conn from transferring assets and destroying evidence related to the case. A final order could be granted following a hearing set for Thursday.

Similar lawsuits targeting Conn are filed in West Virginia.

Conn's attorney, Kent Wicker of Louisville, Kentucky, has called lawsuits targeting his client misdirected in pointing to the government as cutting benefits. He also maintains Conn's innocence saying years of investigation have yielded no criminal charges.

Daugherty also has maintained he committed no wrongdoing. He retired amid paid suspension and later voluntarily agreed to have his state law license annulled last summer.

"CONN ARTIST"

Eric C. Conn, who practices in eastern Kentucky, is accused in a federal report of conspiring with a former Huntington judge to put about 1,800 disability cases on the fast track and pocket millions.

Those reports showed Conn was the third-highest paid disability attorney in the country in 2010.

Concerns were first raised in publications and claims in 2011.

By 2013, federal investigators released a 166-page report they said proves significant fraud for at least four years.

Now, more than 1,000 of Conn's former clients said they fear they'll lose their disability checks.

They told that they received letters late last week warning them their benefits are being suspended.

Now, some are looking at legal action.

The letters said fraud is suspected in their disability cases, particularly those linked to several doctors and evidence Conn provided during court hearings.

Amber Triplett is in remission from Crohn's Disease, and on disability, now for about five years.

She said she chose Conn's firm in Ashland because he was the first lawyer off the bridge from her home area of South Point, Ohio and that also he was well-known.

"My medical costs are through the roof, my medication that brought me into remission is almost $10,000 every eight weeks," Triplett said in interviews.

Now, she along with hundreds of others are worried, after receiving a letter from the Social Security Administration.

She worries losing her benefits, means losing her medicine and eventually, she'll be fighting her disease all over again.

"I don't want to go back to that place, the way it was before," she said.

The letter said her benefits are being suspended while investigators re-evaluate her claim. It said federal officials believe fraud may have been involved with a doctor used in her case.

She said the case was handled by Conn and the doctor was one Conn told her to use.

"I have cried now for over two weeks, because of this, every time I think about it," said Catherine Preece.

Preece, who lives in Louisa, Kentucky, is another former client.

She said she worries her $1,000 disability check won't come next month.

"Now, I don't know what we're going to do," she said.

The letters come about two years after federal investigators released a report pointing to the fraud between Conn and former Huntington Administrative Law Judge, David Daugherty.

The reports said in four years, the two conspired to approve 1,800 disability cases, using doctors Conn chose to sign already filled out forms.

They also said Daugherty approved claims in "assembly-line fashion", using the manufactured medical evidence.

Federal documents also alleged the two created a list, known as the "DB List", made up of clients the judge planned to approve for benefits that month.

In 2011, Daugherty was put on administrative leave, before finally retiring.

According to a police report from Monday, October 14, 2013, Daugherty was also found in a parked running car in a Barboursville, West Virginia church parking lot, in what police investigators believed was an attempted suicide.

Police say a worker at the church found Daugherty unconscious, sitting in his car at 3:20 P.M.. They say his breathing was labored and he had a poor pulse rate.

According to the report, the person who found Daugherty pulled him from the car.

Investigators say they found a garden hose duct taped to the exhaust pipe of the car, running into the rear passenger side window. According to the report, police found the garden hose was pinched on one end and melted on the other end by the exhaust.

According to the report, police also found an empty liquor bottle and empty pill container nearby.

Daugherty was soon taken to a Huntington, West Virginia hospital, where he later recovered thereafter

Conn has not been charged with criminal activity in the fraud case.

On Thursday May 28, as a wide range of media outletts contacted Eric Conn and his attorney for comment about the letters; Conn via his attorney released this statement:

"Eric Conn has represented thousands of clients for over twenty years with skill and integrity. A lot of people have made unfounded accusations against Mr. Conn, but the government investigated Mr. Conn for years and found no wrongdoing on his part. It now appears that the Social Security Administration is responding to political pressure to take some kind of action. The government's action is truly unfortunate.

What we're seeing is that most of the cases sent for review are those in which an examination was conducted by Dr. Frederick Huffnagle, who was a board certified orthopedic surgeon and is now deceased. It is certainly unfair for the SSA to cast aspersions on these cases when Dr. Huffnagle is not able to defend himself. Other cases involve Dr. Brad Atkins, who also performed evaluations on behalf of the SSA. If you asked Mr. Conn's clients, they would tell you that the evaluations conducted by doctors working on behalf of Mr. Conn were much longer and more thorough than those performed by the SSA doctors."

But the federal report claims in four years, Conn pocketed $4.5 million in fees from fraudulent cases.

Conn received $22.7 million in attorney's fees from the Social Security Administration between 2001 and 2013, the report said.

It also said Daugherty awarded more than $2.5 billion in benefits in his last years as judge.

The report also said some years, Conn represented about 40 percent of the cases presented in Daugherty's court.

"I'm terrified," Amber Triplett said.

But people like her said they aren't looking for billions, just what they get every month.

Ned Pillersdorf, an attorney in Prestonsburg, along with several attorneys were filing a class-action lawsuit against Conn.

He said there are about 900 people involved, who've all received suspension letters.

Pillersdorf said he'll be asking a federal judge for an injunction, to set aside the suspension of his clients' social security benefits.

He said they plan to sue Conn for fraud in Floyd County Circuit Court under the Kentucky Consumer Protection Act.

Pillersdorf said if his clients lose their benefits, even temporarily, it could be as long as two years before they get them back.

He also stated his office has received numerous calls from food banks, looking to help those affected by suspended benefits.

He added, Citizens National Bank in Floyd County reached out to his office wanting to help customers who are struggling with their mortgage payments due to suspended benefits.

Attorneys filed the lawsuit Saturday May 30.

This will make the second lawsuit against Eric Conn.

The first lawsuit was filed in Mingo County, West Virginia Wednesday, May 27.

At least nine people are involved in that lawsuit.

Date: 06-01-2015

Just minutes after James Comer publicly conceded to Republican primary opponent Matt Bevin, the Kentucky Democratic Party wasted no time taking off the gloves. 

In the wake of Thursday’s recanvass, which showed no new votes for the GOP nominee hopeful, Comer released a statement conceding to Bevin saying he grew to “appreciate Matt Bevin’s knowledge of the issues, his work ethic and his morals.” 

Off the back of Bevin’s morals, Comer said Bevin would stand up to the special interest groups that have “held our great state back and fight the corrupt elements that still exist in Frankfort.”

But the Kentucky Democratic Party unveiled a website Friday reminding people of just how immoral and corrupt other Republicans have thought Bevin is.

Staying on course as the state’s most interesting gubernatorial race, the KDP just 15 minutes after Comer’s released statement unveiled the Matt “Bevinocchio” Bevin www.BevinSelfPortrait.com website. 

It is filled with comments from Sen. Mitch McConnell aide Josh Holmes, former McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore and those less than a month old from Comer, Heiner and Republican strategist Les Fugate. 

Problems ahead

Pull quotes with links to news articles and KET video, highlight the difficulty the Kentucky GOP may have embracing Bevin as Fugate said, “Matt Bevin is the hardest candidate for Kentucky Republicans to unify behind” in KET’s “Kentucky Tonight” program May 15. 

Much like Bevin’s primary victory speech inviting Kentuckians from all political parties to join his march to the governor’s mansion, the KDP’s website invites Republicans as well. 

With a place to enter a name and email address, the website invites Republicans to fill out a form stating why they don’t like Bevin so they can be added to the list of comments. 

The Republican Governors Association simultaneously issued a statement congratulating Bevin on his primary victory with blessings from Washington D.C. 

RGA chairman Gov. Bill Haslam said Bevin “knows what’s best for the future of Kentucky” and “has a bold vision for the commonwealth.”

Bevin gave a press conference Friday saying he had talked with both McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul and was joined by other Republican candidates, which included agriculture commissioner candidate Rep. Ryan Quarles, treasurer nominee Allison Ball, auditor nominee Rep. Mike Harmon and secretary of state candidate Steve Knipper. 

The Republican Lincoln Dinner in Lexington may serve to rally Republicans and bring them into the fold with Bevin’s campaign, but the Democratic gubernatorial candidate also released a statement welcoming Bevin into the race. 

“I welcome Matt Bevin to the governor’s race as the Republican nominee,” Conway said in a written statement. “I look forward to a spirited race with my opponent and a conversation with voters over the next five months about the issues that matter most to Kentucky families.”

By Brad Bowman
The State Journal

Remember Our Military

By Glenn Mollette

One of my sons recently came home from a twelve month military deployment. My wife and I took a couple of days and flew to welcome him at his stateside arrival airport. We watched soldier after soldier pick up his or her duffel bags and other luggage in baggage claims.

We didn't see families or friends hugging them and welcoming them home. My son turned the corner and came into the area and I was so delighted to see him. For the first time in one year I heard his voice and hugged him. I'm sure I was missing something. Surely there was another area where spouses, family or others were located in waiting to greet these wonderful military men and women. However, I didn't see them. I felt like my wife and I were the only two people in waiting to welcome a family member.

I wonder if we are missing something altogether in this nation. Do we take for granted all that we still have in America? In Colorado Americans are free to smoke pot. In many of our states we are free to gamble our money away if we choose. We are free to chose the religion of our choice. In Kentucky we can choose Bourbon Whiskey or from any number of multiplying vineyards. Gay and Lesbians can find a way to legally bond somewhere in America. Street Preachers in America can still cry out the gospel. States are crying for people to start businesses. All in all in America, you can do most anything you want to do. America doesn't ask a whole lot of us. We have to pay some taxes. We aren't allowed to hurt people. We have a few rules to obey. We are to obey the driving laws and that's about it.

Soldiers are called upon to lay down their lives. We do pay them. However, most of our service people make very low wages their first few years. I realize they have some benefits but we are asking them to fight to help protect us and maintain our American way of life.

This weekend or any weekend say thank you to a Veteran or to a passing soldier. They appreciate being appreciated. Remember those who gave their lives for us in war. Without their sacrifice America would have been a thing of the past a long time ago.

Glenn Mollette is an American columnist and is read in all fifty states. He is the author of eleven books. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.

Like his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GlennMollette

Date: 05-28-2015

Does it matter if two guys don't get along? It could in the Kentucky governor's race and the two guys are the Republican running for governor and the most powerful Republican in the nation.

The rapport between Louisville businessman and presumed governor nominee Matt Bevin and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Louisville, has been frosty ever since last year's primary, in which McConnell beat Bevin.

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell and GOP Governor candidate elect Bevin have "frosty" relationship.Then this year, political action committees previously associated with McConnell and this year supporting Hal Heiner unleashed attack ads against Bevin, raising issues about taxes and bailouts that Bevin said were blatantly false.

Bevin leads Agriculture Commissioner James Comer by 83 votes after last week's Republican primary for governor. Comer has asked for a review of the state's voting machines and absentee ballots, a process that begins Thursday morning. If the recanvass uncovers any discrepancies, Comer may choose to petition the Franklin County Circuit Court for a recount, which he would have to pay for.

The uncertainty has not stopped Bevin from acting like the nominee. Bevin has been telling reporters he expects McConnell will support him, adding that he supported McConnell in his 2014 re-election.

McConnell would not refer to Bevin as the nominee on Tuesday, saying he would support the Republican nominee "as soon as we know who that is."

Bevin previously declined several times to publicly endorse McConnell in 2014, although he did attend events and urged Republicans to vote in the general election.

In an appearance last week, Bevin said he had supported Republicans statewide with time, appearances and financial endorsements in a statement that made it appear he had also supported McConnell directly.

"I literally know of no other elected official in this state who went to more events between May and November in support of candidates and support of Mitch McConnell and other down ticket races than I did," said Bevin. "I knocked on doors, I made phone calls, I wrote checks myself, and I physically attended fundraiser after fundraiser."

Many have interpreted that as Bevin claiming that he donated to the McConnell campaign, which election records show did not happen. But Wednesday, officials with Bevin's campaign said that the quote was "misinterpreted" and that Bevin was trying to transition off the McConnell topic and talk in general terms.

"Essentially what Matt was trying to say is that no one has worked harder for the Republican party as a whole, and that got lost in translation," Bevin spokesman Ben Hartman said.

In a statement texted to The Enquirer, Bevin said that "I am looking forward, not backward, and I invite all those looking to be part of the solution to Kentucky's challenges to join me."

"The ranks of the problem solvers is growing daily and I am excited to see the coalescing of experienced and dedicated people who want a better future for the generations to come," Bevin wrote. "While focusing on our own race, I will still continue to support those candidates who I believe can take our state forward and need my verbal and financial help to make that happen."

Further highlighting the possible rift, McConnell and Bevin were supposed to appear together at a dinner in Elizabethtown Tuesday night. The invitations sent by Bevin's campaign referred to Bevin as the Republican nominee for governor.

But Bevin canceled that appearance where McConnell, the Senate majority leader, spoke. And McConnell has said he will not attend the state Republican Party's Lincoln Day dinner on Saturday when Bevin will be the featured speaker.

McConnell told reporters in Elizabethtown he can't make Saturday's dinner because he has to be in Washington to prepare for a rare Sunday session to try and avert the expiration of the Patriot Act, which fellow Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul vigorously opposes.

"I don't think (people) should read that into it," McConnell said of his absence on Saturday. "If I were not the majority leader of the Senate, you know, I could probably wait until Sunday to go back. But I'm responsible for the schedule, I'm responsible for the Sunday session and so nothing should be read into that in terms of my interest in the governor's race or any other race this fall."

Hartman, Bevin's campaign manager, said Bevin missed McConnell's speech Tuesday because of a "scheduling conflict."

Just last year, McConnell's re-election campaign asked Kentucky's Republican voters in a television ad: "how can you believe (Bevin) on anything?"

Bevin used his young daughter in a TV ad to say McConnell was spreading lies during the state's Republican primary, which McConnell won handily.

Some Republicans insist Bevin and McConnell's relationship is just fine. Last week, four Republican state representatives from Hardin County who supported Comer in the primary sent a letter to county Republicans urging them to put aside their differences and support the Republican candidate.

"Having spoken with both of them, there is no animosity. That's not spin, that's the truth," said state Rep. Tim Moore, who co-wrote the letter. Of Bevin and McConnell appearing together, Moore said: "it's inevitable."

"Will it be a sign to everybody in the state that the party is united? Sure it will," he said. "I look forward to it."

By James Pilcher
The Kentucky Enquirer

Amtrak, Donald Trump, China, Expanding Monster

By Glenn Mollette

I am sad for the eight people and their families who died and the many others injured because of the recent Amtrak disaster. Tragedy can happen regardless of ownership. I wish we didn't own Amtrak.

Our federal government should get out of the train business. Amtrak is another government failure. The Government owns Amtrak and has since 1971. Our federal government has sunk 45 billion dollars into Amtrak since then while each year it loses hundreds of millions of dollars. Over the next five years we are scheduled to sink another 7 billion dollars into Amtrak.

Most Americans will never ride Amtrak yet we subsidize every ticket. The average ticket price from Washington, D.C. to New York is $69. Taxpayers (you) also subsidize each ticket by about $60. This means every time a person from the Northeast corridor buys a train ticket it costs you $60. Most of the people riding Amtrak in Philadelphia, New York and D.C. are not America's poor. The highest paid people in America live in this section of the United States. Americans pour billions of dollars into train travel that less than ten percent of Americans will ever use.

The government could save us a lot of money and headaches if they would give Amtrak away. Possibly they could give it to Donald Trump. Trump seems to make a lot of money. Maybe he could straighten it out. At least he would get it out of America's hair. Possibly we could give it to Wal-Mart? I'm not a Wal-Mart fan but they do make money. Maybe they could make Amtrak better. Maybe we could just give it to China? Now, there is an idea. We owe China more money that we can stuff into all the Amtrak cars lined up from D.C. to New York City. Let's give them Amtrak as payment for what we owe them. I don't like China but anything to get this train off our government payroll.

Amtrak is another American government monster that is failing bigger every day. Our country has a full plate. We should get this monster off our plate.

Glenn Mollette is an American columnist and is read in all fifty states. He is the author of eleven books. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.

Like his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GlennMollette