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Against court orders, Conour auctioned art for $10k

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Former personal injury attorney William Conour claims his ex-wife is in possession of most of the items the government says are missing from his Carmel home, but he acknowledged auctioning sculptures for $10,000 in an apparent violation of bond conditions in his federal wire fraud case.

The admission is contained in Conour’s response to the government’s claim that numerous items inventoried by federal agents at his home, law office and Sheridan horse stables after his arrest more than a year ago could not be located during a recent follow-up inventory.

Conour said in a Friday filing that more than 75 items the government lists as missing from his home – including art, furniture, televisions, sports memorabilia and other items – “were awarded to Jennifer Conour as part of the dissolution of marriage property settlement and are at her residence.”

But one item isn’t. “Item 151 (‘large matching sculptures, Asian birds and flowers’) was sold at auction in November. Mr. Conour received approximately $10,000 for that sale in February 2013 and used that money for living expenses,” according to the filing by his federal public defender, Michael J. Donahoe.

Conour is set to stand trial September 9 in federal court in the Southern District of Indiana. He is accused of defrauding more than 25 clients of more than $4.5 million, though victims and attorneys familiar with the case believe the figure might be several million dollars more. Conour was arrested in April 2012 and resigned from the bar in June 2012.

The government last month sought to revoke Conour’s bond, arguing that he violated its terms when he dissipated inventoried items. Southern District Chief Judge Richard Young ordered a new inventory and ordered Conour to reacquire and place back in his possession items that had been dissipated.

In a May 10 entry, Young wrote that Donahoe “represented that most of the missing assets were transferred to (Conour’s) ex-wife pursuant to an uncontested divorce decree … (T)he inventoried assets were not to be transferred without permission of the court.”

Young earlier this month took federal prosecutor Jason Bohm’s request for bond revocation under advisement pending the outcome of the government’s latest inventory. As of midday Monday, Young had taken no further action.  

Weeks after Conour was charged and bond conditions set, Jennifer Conour filed a divorce action in Kosciusko Superior Court. In December, a judge in Warsaw approved a dissolution of marriage that divided the couples’ assets, awarding Jennifer Conour the Sheridan horse farm, among other things.

Conour addresses the divorce in his most recent filing. “Clearly, the dissolution decree from the Kosciusko Superior Court constitutes a ‘court order’ as that term is used in the release conditions,” his response says. “Furthermore, any objective valuation of the marital estate would demonstrate that the personal property was divided with Mr. Conour receiving well over 50 percent of the personal property despite the presumption under Indiana law that ‘… an equal division of the marital property between the parties is just and reasonable.’

“Had that case proceeded to a contested hearing the property division would, in all likelihood, have been far less favorable than that provided by the negotiated settlement,” Conour claims in the filing.

Meantime, Conour says in the filing that his ex refuses through her attorney to return property, and much of it would have been subject to Jennifer Conour’s claim of ownership before their marriage. “In other words, the ability to use that property for restitution has not been compromised by the property settlement and relocation.”

The filing also asserts that several inventoried items that the government says are missing are in Conour’s home and apparently were overlooked in the follow-up asset check.

After Conour put the large matching sculptures of Asian birds and flowers on the auction block, Donahoe was appointed his public defender. After Conour received the approximately $10,000 from the sale, he requested a separate $10,000 for living expenses from a court fund that had been established for restitution and other purposes.

That request was withdrawn when the government opposed it and raised the issue of asset dissipation. “The United States remains concerned that the defendant may attempt to liquidate all his assets leaving little for possible restitution for the victims,” the government argued in March.
 

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