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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. Unlike the federal judge who refused to protect me, the Virginia State Bar gave me a hearing. After the hearing, the Virginia State Bar refused to discipline me. VSB said that attacking me with the court ADA coordinator had, " all the grace and charm of a drive-by shooting." One does wonder why the VSB was able to have a hearing and come to that conclusion, but the federal judge in Indiana slammed the door of the courthouse in my face.

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