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Conour still free though judge ‘deeply, deeply concerned’

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Former leading personal-injury attorney William Conour remained free Thursday pending his wire fraud trial after a federal judge withheld ruling on the government’s bid to revoke his bond on claims that he dissipated assets against court orders.

Chief Judge Richard Young of the Southern District of Indiana wants to hear from a former U.S. attorney who Conour testified approved of art sales and other money transfers that constitute part of the government’s bond revocation request. Young also at times seemed incredulous about the circumstances regarding William and Jennifer Conour’s divorce that took place after the bond terms were set.

Conour is accused of defrauding 25 or more clients of at least $4.5 million and is scheduled to stand trial on Sept. 9. He faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.

Conour took the stand for about an hour Thursday, arguing that former U.S. Attorney Richard Cox, who has since retired, had allowed him to use assets derived from the sale of art and from other sources for personal expenses as well as for hiring counsel and providing money for a potential victim restitution fund. Conour said the agreements were made with his former attorneys and during the period when Conour represented himself.

The government claims Cox never authorized Conour to dissipate more than $80,000 in the latter months of 2012 in the manner in which he did, insisting the money was to be used to retain counsel and form a potential victim restitution pool, and that Conour therefore violated bond conditions. Conour was appointed a federal defender in January after he said he couldn’t afford counsel.

“Mr. Cox was very amenable to work with,” Conour testified, saying the parties operated under a “loose, informal agreement,” and that he was trying to avoid bankruptcy.

But U.S. Attorney Jason Bohm countered that Conour’s relationship with Cox soured after Conour sent an email to the prosecutor stating, “I’m tired of being blackmailed with my own funds,” and that Cox never authorized the spending of money from art sales for Conour’s living expenses.

Young said he was “deeply, deeply concerned here regarding the remaining assets and what may happen to them,” but set another hearing at 1:30 p.m. June 28 to receive testimony from Cox.

Young also said he was troubled by the divorce action Conour’s ex-wife, Jennifer, filed days after he was charged in April 2012. Young said Kosciusko Superior Court, where the action was filed was “never notified of this proceeding,” nor was the federal court notified of the divorce. “That’s a real concern of the court,” Young said. “There’s a proper procedure” for approving dissipation of assets “that wasn’t followed here.”

Conour “should have notified this court and the Kosciusko County court what was going on here,” Young said, noting later the judge in Warsaw might not have approved a divorce had he known about the wire fraud case.
 
“It’s obvious to the court what’s going on here. … I think it’s obvious to everyone what’s going on.”

The Conours settled the uncontested divorce in December that divided assets, and the government contended Thursday that action alone was sufficient to constitute a violation of bond. But Young said he first wanted to hear from Cox to form a complete record and weigh his credibility against Conour’s.

Conour represented himself in the divorce, and Young interrupted when defense attorney Michael Donahoe said, “he’s not an experienced divorce litigator.”

“He’s a lawyer,” Young said. “He understands conditions of bond, right?”

Donahoe acknowledged Conour should have notified the court about the divorce before agreeing to transfer assets as a result of the agreement. “In hindsight, it would have been advisable to do that.” Donahoe noted that if he had represented Conour at the time, he would have advised him to do so.

Young also later took issue when Conour testified that he was ordered by the Kosciusko County court to pay his ex-wife’s car payments – a stipulation Conour later could not identify on the stand after Bohm handed him a copy of the divorce settlement.

“Mr. Conour, you weren’t ordered to do anything by the Kosciusko County court,” Young said, noting the uncontested nature of the divorce agreement.

Donahoe asked Conour about the value of assets that were transferred to his ex-wife. Conour said he valued the personal property he retained at about $144,000 compared with about $30,000 for Jennifer Conour.

“My goal was to preserve as much of the assets as we could,” Conour testified.  

Meanwhile, Conour said he continues to pursue legal fees that he contends are owed from cases handled by other attorneys that were “taken from my firm.”

“There’s $2 million sitting in a lawyer’s account,” he contended, noting later that some 50 cases were transferred from his former firm. “I’m entitled to a fee in every one of those cases,” which he testified would go into the court trust fund.

 

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  • Theory
    No irony here, John. Conour’s clients are wise to him. Evidently you’ve missed discovery that disclosed Conour was aware he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, actually many cookie jars, but continued to spend any monies he secured on himself and his lifestyle. Your theory is idealistic and assumes Conour has the soul of a good attorney and therefore he would take care of his clients. Conour has no soul. He greedily took awarded settlements from his disabled clients and spent it on his own edacious desires. You are naïve to think if he kept working he would put his fees into a restitution fund. He is who he is and has proven he will use any means to cheat and manipulate those who trust him and the judicial system that is supposed to protect them. Sorry John, you don’t send the fox back into the hen house after he’s caught devouring the hens. Conour can’t be trusted. He has no more honor than that fox.
  • irony
    the irony of situations like this is that the clients whom conour cheated are the ones who should be pulling hardest for him to remain free and keep his law license, so they have some hopes of him paying back. really bury the guy deep and then there will be little hope of restitution
    • Concerned?
      Deeply, deeply concerned? I'll bet if it was the judge's money that had been swindled we'd see deep concern with actual consequences. First a Ponzi scheme, then a shell game with the assets…c'mon, hasn't Conour abused the judicial system and his clients long enough? I say enough already.
    • Wow
      Wow, just wow.

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    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

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