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In arguing for leniency, Conour cites previous ‘stellar’ career

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Convicted former attorney William Conour argues in a court filing Wednesday that he deserves leniency in sentencing and should receive less than the minimum advisory range of 14 to 17.5 years in federal prison for defrauding three-dozen clients of nearly $7 million.

Michael Donahoe, the court-appointed federal defender representing Conour, prepared a sentencing memorandum that argues the former leading wrongful-death and personal-injury attorney has shown remorse and taken responsibility since pleading guilty in July to a single count of wire fraud.

Conour’s sentencing memorandum comes a day after the government argued for the maximum statutory sentence of 20 years.

Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana will sentence Conour at 2 p.m. Thursday in Room 347 of the Birch Bayh Federal Courthouse in Indianapolis. At least seven victims from whom Conour stole settlement proceeds have said they want to provide impact statements prior to sentencing.

“No one, least of all the defendant, disputes the gravity of the crime and the need for severe punishment. Mr. Conour recognizes the extensive and irreparable harm he has caused his clients, the legal profession, and his family,” the filing says. “He accepts full responsibility for his actions and is extremely remorseful for the consequences of his behavior.”

The brief says Conour should receive less than the advisory sentencing range calculated in a confidential pre-sentencing report prepared by federal probation. “The defense objects to the enhancements for vulnerable victims and obstruction, and the failure to recognize acceptance of responsibility in the guideline calculation.” Conour’s sentence also should not be enhanced because of the number of victims, the brief argues.

“William Conour is now 66 years old. The sentence sought by the government would almost certainly amount to a life sentence. Aside from retribution and vengeance it is difficult to find another purpose that would be served by achieving that result,” the memorandum says.

“Society reaps little benefit from imposing lengthy sentences on elderly, non-violent first offenders. In most cases the cost of such incarceration far outweighs any benefit. … Considering that this is Mr. Conour’s first offense, and it is certain that he will never practice law or hold a position of trust again, the chance that he will commit future crimes is miniscule,” the memorandum says.
 
The brief argues for a lesser sentence in part because of Conour’s success before his fall. “Mr. Conour enjoyed a stellar career spanning 38 years characterized by giving back to his profession and community. He was regarded by his peers as a leader, innovator, teacher and visionary. He accepted very difficult cases and the high risks that accompanied them, and more often than not was successful.

“He represented over 1,000 clients during his distinguished career and all, with the exception of the victims in this case, were paid at the conclusion of their case. It should be noted that the total number of victims amounts to less than one-third of 1 percent of his total clients, illustrating that illegal conduct was not predominate and did not characterize or define his law practice.”

The brief also seeks to downplay a government claim that Conour showed no acceptance of responsibility in a jailhouse interview with The Indianapolis Star.

“The opinions expressed by Mr. Conour reflect his subjective belief about the characterization of his conduct, as he views it, vis-à-vis how he feels the government views it. He has never questioned the seriousness of his criminal conduct. Many defendants who plead guilty disagree with the government about the relative harm caused by the offense. A common example would be a defendant charged with marijuana dealing who disagrees with the government about the harm from that activity,” the brief says.

While arguing in the brief that he accepts responsibility, Conour takes exception to how his crimes are labeled. “Mr. Conour also expressed his opinion that his behavior should not be characterized as a Ponzi scheme. The term ‘Ponzi scheme’ is not a legal term of art and is not defined in the federal criminal code. Whether certain fraudulent behavior deserves that label is a matter of opinion, and ultimately irrelevant. Both the government and Mr. Conour are entitled to their respective opinions on that topic,” the filing says.
 

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  • It's a Ponzi
    The only remorse Conour has shown is for getting caught in his “cash flow problem.” Strange that this cash flow problem didn’t slow down his spending on himself, even when he was under investigation and court orders. He kept all the trappings of a lavish lifestyle right up to the time he was imprisoned. Justifying Conour’s abhorrent behavior and putting words of attrition in his mouth may be Donahue’s duty, but it’s still revolting…especially for using his youngest children to create sympathy. Good father? Didn’t I read that he left them for several years to live in Scotland while studying for a masters in theology? I’d suggest gargling with Purell, Donahue. I hope the court deems to show as much mercy towards Conour as he did towards his disabled clients. They are left with a life sentence of no funds to help them cope. Conour should have the same life sentence and deal with it…he earned every minute.

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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