ILNews

Conour still free though judge ‘deeply, deeply concerned’

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

  • 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.

    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. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

    2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

    3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

    4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

    5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

    ADVERTISEMENT