Authorities believe fugitive lawyer Eric C. Conn is still in the country after escaping court-ordered supervision Friday evening and are offering a $20,000 reward for information that helps catch him.
Police want to find Conn quickly before he has a chance to leave the U.S.
“We need him to face justice for defrauding the U.S. taxpayer,” Amy Hess, special agent in charge of the FBI in Kentucky, said at a news conference in Louisville on Wednesday.
Conn pleaded guilty in March to submitting false information on requests for his clients to receive federal disability payments, and to bribing a Social Security Administration judge to approve payments for thousands of Conn’s clients.
Conn made millions from the scheme, and paid the judge, David B. Daughterty, more than $600,000 from 2004 to 2011, according to court records.
Conn was out of jail on bond pending his sentencing in July, with the condition he post a large bond, be under house arrest and wear an electronic monitoring device — an ankle bracelet — to track his whereabouts.
As part of Conn’s plea deal, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend allowing him to remain free pending sentencing. U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves approved the request, continuing conditions imposed earlier by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert E. Wier.
But after spending much of the day in Lexington on Friday preparing to possibly testify against a third man charged in the case, Conn cut off the ankle bracelet and disappeared Friday evening, according to the FBI.
Hess declined to discuss some details of the investigation, but said the bracelet was found thrown out along Interstate 75 in Lexington. She could not provide the exact location.
Cutting the bracelet prompted an alert. The U.S. Probation Office, which had Conn under supervision, notified the FBI.
Hess said the FBI was notified “very quickly.” Wier issued an arrest warrant for him on Saturday for violating his bond conditions.
Hess said authorities have information that suggests Conn is still in the country, but they’re not sure how much longer he will remain.
BY BILL ESTEP