ILNews

10-year Conour sentence disappoints victims

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”
 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • 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.

      Post a comment to this story

      COMMENTS POLICY
      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
       
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
       
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
       
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
       
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
       

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by
      ADVERTISEMENT
      Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
      1. Call it unauthorized law if you must, a regulatory wrong, but it was fraud and theft well beyond that, a seeming crime! "In three specific cases, the hearing officer found that Westerfield did little to no work for her clients but only issued a partial refund or no refund at all." That is theft by deception, folks. "In its decision to suspend Westerfield, the Supreme Court noted that she already had a long disciplinary history dating back to 1996 and had previously been suspended in 2004 and indefinitely suspended in 2005. She was reinstated in 2009 after finally giving the commission a response to the grievance for which she was suspended in 2004." WOW -- was the Indiana Supreme Court complicit in her fraud? Talk about being on notice of a real bad actor .... "Further, the justices noted that during her testimony, Westerfield was “disingenuous and evasive” about her relationship with Tope and attempted to distance herself from him. They also wrote that other aggravating factors existed in Westerfield’s case, such as her lack of remorse." WOW, and yet she only got 18 months on the bench, and if she shows up and cries for them in a year and a half, and pays money to JLAP for group therapy ... back in to ride roughshod over hapless clients (or are they "marks") once again! Aint Hoosier lawyering a great money making adventure!!! Just live for the bucks, even if filthy lucre, and come out a-ok. ME on the other hand??? Lifetime banishment for blowing the whistle on unconstitutional governance. Yes, had I ripped off clients or had ANY disciplinary history for doing that I would have fared better, most likely, as that it would have revealed me motivated by Mammon and not Faith. Check it out if you doubt my reading of this, compare and contrast the above 18 months with my lifetime banishment from court, see appendix for Bar Examiners report which the ISC adopted without substantive review: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS

      2. Wow, over a quarter million dollars? That is a a lot of commissary money! Over what time frame? Years I would guess. Anyone ever try to blow the whistle? Probably not, since most Hoosiers who take notice of such things realize that Hoosier whistleblowers are almost always pilloried. If someone did blow the whistle, they were likely fired. The persecution of whistleblowers is a sure sign of far too much government corruption. Details of my own personal experience at the top of Hoosier governance available upon request ... maybe a "fake news" media outlet will have the courage to tell the stories of Hoosier whistleblowers that the "real" Hoosier media (cough) will not deign to touch. (They are part of the problem.)

      3. So if I am reading it right, only if and when African American college students agree to receive checks labeling them as "Negroes" do they receive aid from the UNCF or the Quaker's Educational Fund? In other words, to borrow from the Indiana Appellate Court, "the [nonprofit] supposed to be [their] advocate, refers to [students] in a racially offensive manner. While there is no evidence that [the nonprofits] intended harm to [African American students], the harm was nonetheless inflicted. [Black students are] presented to [academia and future employers] in a racially offensive manner. For these reasons, [such] performance [is] deficient and also prejudice[ial]." Maybe even DEPLORABLE???

      4. I'm the poor soul who spent over 10 years in prison with many many other prisoners trying to kill me for being charged with a sex offense THAT I DID NOT COMMIT i was in jail for a battery charge for helping a friend leave a boyfriend who beat her I've been saying for over 28 years that i did not and would never hurt a child like that mine or anybody's child but NOBODY wants to believe that i might not be guilty of this horrible crime or think that when i say that ALL the paperwork concerning my conviction has strangely DISAPPEARED or even when the long beach judge re-sentenced me over 14 months on a already filed plea bargain out of another districts court then had it filed under a fake name so i could not find while trying to fight my conviction on appeal in a nut shell people are ALWAYS quick to believe the worst about some one well I DID NOT HURT ANY CHILD EVER IN MY LIFE AND HAVE SAID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS please if anybody can me get some kind of justice it would be greatly appreciated respectfully written wrongly accused Brian Valenti

      5. A high ranking Indiana supreme Court operative caught red handed leading a group using the uber offensive N word! She must denounce or be denounced! (Or not since she is an insider ... rules do not apply to them). Evidence here: http://m.indianacompanies.us/friends-educational-fund-for-negroes.364110.company.v2#top_info

      ADVERTISEMENT