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Indiana University will donate former attorney’s gift to victims

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Now that former high-profile personal-injury attorney William Conour has pleaded guilty to accusations that he defrauded dozens of clients of more than $4.5 million, his victims hope for some measure of restitution. At least a fraction of the loss will be covered by the law school to which Conour gave $450,000.

Dressed in faded black-and-white Marion County Jail scrubs and shackled at the wrists and ankles, Conour pleaded guilty July 15 to a single count of wire fraud that could earn him a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of as much as $250,000. Victims include widows and children of people who were killed in workplace accidents, and the money involved came from settlements Conour won for them and was supposed to have held in trust.
 

conour-bill-mug Conour

Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana said Conour would be sentenced at 2 p.m. Oct. 17, at which time victims will be able to testify.

“I think quite a few of them are going to want to exercise their right to address the court,” federal prosecutor Jason Bohm told Young.

Conour admitted to the government’s stipulated facts, though he told Young, “I’m not sure the figures are accurate,” regarding the asserted loss of $4.5 million.

IU returning donation

Conour’s alma mater Indiana University said in a statement it intends to use money Conour gave the school to help compensate his victims. In a statement, IU President Michael A. McRobbie said he would recommend to the school’s board of trustees that Conour’s name be removed from the atrium at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.

“McKinney School Dean Andrew Klein announced his full support of this decision, as well as returning all of the funds received by the law school from Mr. Conour for the naming of the atrium to an appropriate fund for compensating the victims of Mr. Conour’s crimes,” the university said in a statement.

Conour asked the court in a filing July 3 to waive a trial that had been scheduled for Sept. 9. The change of plea was entered six days after a judge ordered him jailed for dissipating assets in violation of terms of bond.

The plea says Conour realizes, “I will have to pay restitution,” but it’s unclear where additional money to pay victims might come from. The court fund established for victim restitution last month contained about $21,000.

Daughter speaks out

As victims hope for some level of restitution, Conour’s eldest daughter from his first of three marriages shares that desire. Tonja Eagan was in court July 15 as was a daughter from Conour’s second marriage, Rachel Boehm. Conour spoke with them briefly before U.S. marshals led him back to jail.

Eagan said she saw her father become more focused on material wealth after his third marriage in 1998 to Jennifer Conour. Jennifer Conour filed for divorce in Kosciusko County days after Conour was charged.

When Young revoked Conour’s bond last month, the judge noted that the federal court hadn’t been made aware of the divorce filing, nor was the divorce court informed of the federal case against Conour. Young called the divorce “a way to transfer a significant amount of assets.” Jennifer Conour has not been charged, and Conour’s public defender said she had a pre-marital claim to many of the assets she was awarded in the divorce.

Eagan issued this statement regarding her father’s guilty plea:

“Today felt like the first nail was driven into the coffin for my dad’s future. It is heartbreaking for me as his eldest daughter because I am constantly haunted by the pain and suffering of the victims, who were legally awarded funds for their long-term care and protection that they did not receive.

“I am also haunted by the pain and suffering of my family as we realize dad may never again be an active part of the lives of his four adult daughters, two minor children and four young grandchildren. I hope that his ex-wife decides to return all of the assets that she took in their recent divorce so any possible funds that could go to the victims, will indeed go to the victims. As much as our family is in pain, we are equally devastated for all of the families affected.

“Although sentencing will feel like the final nail in the coffin to my family, I pray it enables the victims to begin healing and to access assets through a victim fund to repay them.”

Boehm said after the hearing that her father “really does want to recoup money for the victims.”

Conour said little on his own behalf during the short hearing July 15. When Young asked if he had been treated for substance abuse or mental-health issues, Conour said he had received treatment for alcohol abuse and was taking a prescription antidepressant.

‘A banking system’

Conour described to Young how funds he received for settlements were used to pay his legal fees and used to pay other expenses when he or the firm encountered cash flow problems.

“I treated it more like a banking system,” he said. He also admitted to accepting a $450,000 settlement for a client without his knowledge and converting the money to personal use. “I did not tell him,” Conour said when Young asked if he ever informed the client.

Another victim, Zackery Condon, 20, of Mishawaka, was a toddler when his father, Michael Condon, died in a workplace accident in South Bend in 1994. Condon’s family says Conour won a six-figure settlement in 1996 that was to be held in trust and available for Zackery Condon’s education and living expenses. Condon says he received just $10,000.

“I’d like to show everybody at least what happened,” Condon said after Conour petitioned the court to plead guilty. “I have one thing left of my father, and that is his motorcycle jacket.

“The money he took from everybody, they could be in hard times right now and they could have needed that,” Condon said. “He did whatever with it.”•

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  • Tiny face and parents
    My husband and I were friends for many years with Bill Conour Sr. and his wife. Bill Conour Sr. and my husband worked together for approx. 20 yrs. They would be so ashamed and embarrassed by what Bill Conour Jr. has done. He should be so ashamed.
  • exactly
    Great comment Jack. Zack Condon is my son. This man needs to pay for his mistakes. I accept his apology (if there was one) for using my son; but I do not trust anything that he says. He has lied too many times and deserves the punishment that he gets. As far as I am concerned, everything should be taken from him. He capitalized on some very horrific events. All the horses, statues, cars, houses, designer clothing wouldn't have been possible without the victims he took advantage of. Those things, along with many many more were paid with by dirty money. Face it, he did bad things and should be treated as such. Just restore the victims as best as possible and move on. Give them what they are entitled to. God Bless!
  • Remorse
    ​These comments have certainly provided insight to the mind-set of Conour's daughters. Conour's recent jail-house interview to the Star, given against the advice of counsel, provided more insight to Conour as well. No remorse is ever mentioned; not for his clients or even for the impact on his family. Conour is not (to use the words of his oldest daughter in the article above) "...haunted by the pain and suffering of his victims...or the pain and suffering of his family," or "devasted for the familes." Not one word of remorse has been recorded in anything Conour has said publicly. He has shown no pity publicly for his victims or what he's done to his family. Shifting blame to someone else only exhibits that Conour and his oldest children still refuse to accept accountability for his actions. If this man were my father, I would advise my siblings against blaming someone else for his decades-long criminal behavior. A lawyer has great and grave responsibilities to the client and to the law. Conour is no novice to the law. He knew what he was doing was ciminal. The comments in this article and in the comments below make it clear that these women refuse to hold him entirely responsible for his actions as a lawyer, but the judicial system will.
  • Victim's Statement
    I hope the victims who can't attend the sentencing know they can do a victim's statement and the court will enter it into public record. I agree with Einstein; daughters 1, 2 & 4 should quit talking and start giving. They should take every gift their father gave them in the last 15 years and give it to the feds. According to the logic of 1, 2 & 4, those things would be victim assets as well since Conour bought them during the time he was swindling his clients.
  • Banking system
    In the 4th to last paragraph, Con-our admits to receiving a client’s $450K settlement, not telling the client, and converting it for his personal use. Con-our says he treated his clients trust accounts like a “banking system”. Where does Con-our do his banking that the bankers take your money for their personal use? No wonder no one can find the $4.5M. The poor slob got ripped-off by the banks!
  • Airing dirty laundry
    Usually comments in this magazine relate to the law, not airing family grievances. The conversations of Ms 1, 2, & 4 are better suited for Maury Povich. I’ll bet wife #3 is thrilled to be freed from those family holidays! Run, 3, run!
  • assets
    I am in no way making excuses for his crimes. I was only commenting as to our request his 3rd wife return assets (even if just some of them) she received in their uncontested divorce. Every little bit will help the victims. Of course, I would help the victims any way I could and maybe I already have worked on some avenues (please don't speak about things you have no idea what you are talking about).
  • You don't know "jack"
    No one said he is guilt free. However, sometimes it takes a catalyst to lead one to make such decisions. If I had money, I would help! I believe I speak for us all when I say that. We "defend" our father because he is our father. We know his heart and we saw what has become of him in the last (almost) 20 years. I wouldn't have guessed all this was happening, too. I won't say names, but we know and He knows.
  • Doing the math
    The math is simple: Criminal charges + defendant pled guilty = prison. There are no mitigating circumstances for an attorney to steal the settlements of his clients. Conour knows the law. He had a fiduciary responsibility to his clients and he is the one who controlled their settlements. Their money was not to be used as his personal “banking system” as he said. Who or what he spent the stolen funds on makes no difference to the court or to his victims. To make excuses for his crimes adds insult to the injury of his clients. If you and your sister are truly heartbroken for your father’s clients, start making payments to the restitution fund.
    • assets
      I am Bill's 2nd eldest daughter and used to work with him. I left my dad's office in April 1994 due to his relationship that started with this person who became his 3rd wife. I support everything my older sister said. I left a job I loved and I know how my dad ran his law office up until April 1994 and I was always proud up to then to say I was his daughter and worked for him. Just because someone marries on a certain date does not mean that a relationship did not start years prior especially when a child is borne from the relationship prior to a date or marriage. My heart breaks for the victims and some I know all too well. This is a very devastating situation that saddens and disgusts me. My sister and my lives w/our family have been a living hell since 1994 and I can now only hope I win the Lottery so I can pay all my dad's victims all their money. It breaks my heart.
    • Do the math
      Maybe my math skills are weak, but if Conour’s third marriage was in 1998 and he was already stealing from his client, Zackery Condon whose case settled in 1996, why is Conour’s daughter, Tonja, blaming the third wife? It seems Conour was already a crook before the third marriage. Conour’s own attorney says the third wife “had a pre-marital claim to many of the assets awarded in the divorce.” In other words, assets that were hers before the marriage…not assets tagged for the victims. Sounds like someone has an axe to grind and is using the press to take a cheap, and dirty, shot. The daughter should face facts and start holding the criminal responsible. He drove the nails into his own coffin.

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