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10-year Conour sentence disappoints victims

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Victims of disgraced wrongful-death and personal-injury attorney William Conour said his 10-year sentence imposed on a wire fraud charge – half the maximum he could have received – left them feeling victimized again.

Conour, 66, was sent to federal prison Thursday for stealing nearly $7 million from more than 30 wrongful-death and personal-injury clients. Several who gave impact statements before sentencing said afterward they were disappointed a longer term wasn’t imposed.

“We trusted you,” a sobbing Stacy Specht said, testifying Conour stole $486,000 she should have received from her husband Wayne’s wrongful-death settlement to provide for her family. Now she has trouble paying the bills and testified she may have to sell everything she owns to survive.

“All I want to do is cry,” Specht said. “You’ve taken away all my financial security. … You’ve taken away everything.”

Conour also took that stand and tearfully apologized to his family, friends, victims and the legal community. “The fault and culpability of this conduct is solely mine,” he said.

“My apology is a weak substitute for their loss,” Conour said, telling the court he hoped to work toward full victim restitution.

“Paying this debt to my former clients is my Number 1 priority,” he said. A court fund contains about $500,000, and an auction of Conour’s assets next month is expected to raise another $200,000 or so. There could be other sources of restitution, but any sources are likely to cover only a fraction of the loss.

Marlane Cochlin, of Columbia City, said Conour took the settlement money negotiated after her husband Cory died in a workplace accident. She faces a mountain of her own medical bills now and needs hip surgery.

“My husband left home one day and never returned. He was crushed to death at work,” she said. “How could you take from us, who had no earning power – a man who had unlimited earning power?

“I struggle every day to stay on my feet,” Cochlin said. Her husband’s settlement money “was meant to take me through the rest of my life,” she said. “What could he (Conour) have bought that was worth that?”

Cochlin testified she would never be able to trust attorneys again as a result of her dealings with Conour.

Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana adjusted the advisory guidelines for Conour downward from the 14-to-17.5 year range recommended in a presentencing report based on defense objections.  

Young told Conour he couldn’t find a case similar to his but sought to impose a sentence that would send a deterrent message.

Conour’s actions were “nothing other than greed to finance a lavish lifestyle,” Young said.

Young said he soon will swear in a new class of attorneys, and he told Conour that “one thing they need to protect is their integrity and reputation.

“You’ve lost it,” he told Conour. “You’ll never get it back.”

Eric Stouder of Indianapolis was swindled out of settlement money Conour won for him after his leg was crushed in a workplace accident. Stouder told the court Conour strong-armed him into singing a settlement he disagreed with and later deprived him of proceeds.

“He is a sociopath,” Stouder said. “He deserves no less than the maximum sentence.”  

Afterward, Stouder, like others, expressed disappointment in the 10-year sentence. “It’s pretty light for what he did, I think.”
 

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  • Not papal
    Jack, better than a papal pass, they enjoy absolute immunity. Not only can they never be held responsible in a court of law, state or federal, those who comment adverse to them here or elsewhere risk discipline, or bar application denial. An investigation by the legislature is probably the only way things will ever be fixed, since they also enjoy absolute control of their hiring, firing and dockets. Conour, Ogden and my case would prove that there are problems needing addressed in this absolutely immune area of Hoosier law. I imagine there are others who reason in the shadows. (Time to speak up, highly disfavored ones. See Patrick Rocchio, for example: http://www.peoplevstate.com/?p=885 )
  • DC Failure
    I agree with Paul Ogden. Conour was turned in to the Disciplinary Commission in 2006 by another attorney for not paying a client her settlement. The DC did nothing and let Bill continue to steal from his clients for another six years until the FBI forced the DC to do their duty. Isn’t the DC complicit? The other ten years imprisonment Conour should have received from Judge Young? Give it to whomever made the decision to grant Conour a free pass. Why isn’t the DC being sued by the victims; does the DC have some sort of Papal dispensation?
    • WRETCH IS A NARCISSISTIC PSYCHPOPATH
      WRETCH IS A NARCISSISTIC PSYCHPOPATH. No point in using the nicer sounding label 'sociopath'--tho they both are accurate. Antisocial, histrionic, narcissistic who else steals $4.5 from widows, children, the maimed, and the dead so he can put up a placard in an Atrium naming it after him and wifey? At least that is finally taken down.
    • I am part of the problem
      Paul, I am part of the problem. in 2009 the IBLE borrowed a DC attorney to help keep me out of the Indiana bar despite having been admitted in KS since '96 with no discipline against me, before the SCOTUS since 2001, cleared by NCBE in 2006 and Missouri bar in 2007. But then Indiana. I am sorry that a DC attorney was put on my case for a few months instead of the Conour case. My apologies to Conour's defrauded victims. Had I known what would be run against me I would have stayed in Kansas, I assure them. Maybe if I had done so the senior DC counsel put onto me would have found the time to run down complaints against a real threat to the good people of Indiana ... and not just a threat to political correctness everywhere.
    • The Disciplinary Commission Failed to Protect the Public
      Our Supreme Court needs to look into why the Disciplinary Commission failed to do anything to stop Conour from preying on his victims. It took the good work of the FBI to uncover the misuse by Conour of his trust account. The FBI criminal complaint filed on 4/27/2012 indicated he had been defrauding clients of his law practice since December of 2000. Yet the DC did not even file a complaint against Conour until 5/24/2012, long after the federal charges were in the works. Yet the DC had several pending grievances against Conour. The top priority of the DC need to be protecting the public from dishonest attorneys. That is clearly not the case with Executive Secretary Michael Witte and the DC Board. The DC will spend an enormous amount of time and resources going after attorneys for criticizing judges, yet can't seem to find the time or resources to protect the public from attorneys like Conour. It is outrageous and it is unacceptable.

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      1. A traditional parade of attorneys? Really Evansville? Y'all need to get out more. When is the traditional parade of notaries? Nurses? Sanitation workers? Pole dancers? I gotta wonder, do throngs of admiring citizens gather to laud these marching servants of the constitution? "Show us your billing records!!!" Hoping some video gets posted. Ours is not a narcissistic profession by any chance, is it? Nah .....

      2. My previous comment not an aside at court. I agree with smith. Good call. Just thought posting here a bit on the if it bleeds it leads side. Most attorneys need to think of last lines of story above.

      3. Hello everyone I'm Gina and I'm here for the exact same thing you are. I have the wonderful joy of waking up every morning to my heart being pulled out and sheer terror of what DCS is going to Throw at me and my family today.Let me start from the !bebeginning.My daughter lost all rights to her 3beautiful children due to Severe mental issues she no longer lives in our state and has cut all ties.DCS led her to belive that once she done signed over her right the babies would be with their family. We have faught screamed begged and anything else we could possibly due I hired a lawyer five grand down the drain.You know all I want is my babies home.I've done everything they have even asked me to do.Now their saying I can't see my grandchildren cause I'M on a prescription for paipain.I have a very rare blood disease it causes cellulitis a form of blood poisoning to stay dormant in my tissues and nervous system it also causes a ,blood clotting disorder.even with the two blood thinners I'm on I still Continue to develop them them also.DCS knows about my illness and still they refuse to let me see my grandchildren. I Love and miss them so much Please can anyone help Us my grandchildren and I they should be worrying about what toy there going to play with but instead there worrying about if there ever coming home again.THANK YOU DCS FOR ALL YOU'VE DONE. ( And if anyone at all has any ideals or knows who can help. Please contact (765)960~5096.only serious callers

      4. He must be a Rethuglican, for if from the other side of the aisle such acts would be merely personal and thus not something that attaches to his professional life. AND ... gotta love this ... oh, and on top of talking dirty on the phone, he also, as an aside, guess we should mention, might be important, not sure, but .... "In addition to these allegations, Keaton was accused of failing to file an appeal after he collected advance payment from a client seeking to challenge a ruling that the client repay benefits because of unreported income." rimshot

      5. I am not a fan of some of the 8.4 discipline we have seen for private conduct-- but this was so egregious and abusive and had so many points of bad conduct relates to the law and the lawyer's status as a lawyer that it is clearly a proper and just disbarment. A truly despicable account of bad acts showing unfit character to practice law. I applaud the outcome.

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