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Lawyers say Conour skipped workers' comp lien payments

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The amount of money lost by personal injury clients and other victims of former attorney William Conour is likely greater than the $4.5 million claimed in an information filed against him in his federal criminal wire fraud case, according to victims and attorneys familiar with the case.

More potential liability is surfacing beyond the 25 clients from whom federal authorities accuse Conour of stealing or misappropriating money. The victims now include workers’ compensation insurance carriers who say Conour or his former law firms failed to pay money due to them.
 

conour-bill-mug Conour

“The cases I have, he was holding money in trust to satisfy a workers’ compensation lien that the insurance company had for workers’ compensation benefits that were paid to plaintiffs he was representing, and I guess the money’s gone,” said Mike Adley, an attorney for Liberty Mutual Group in Indianapolis.

“I’m sure this isn’t the only insurance company affected,” he added.

Adley is handling multiple Liberty Mutual claims against Conour or his former firms in which unsatisfied workers’ compensation liens total between $250,000 and $300,000. Those claims are not part of the federal wire fraud information charging Conour.

Other attorneys for Liberty Mutual also are representing claims against Conour, but Adley said he had no estimate of the total number of claims or the total of alleged damages.

Timothy Devereux, an attorney who until December worked with Conour and has assisted authorities investigating and prosecuting his former boss, said insurers have contacted him regarding their claims. “I tell them, ‘You guys are as much a victim as everyone else in these cases.’”

Devereux described a particular case: “Bill tells the clients that the workers’ compensation lien is $200,000, and he’s going to withhold that out of the settlement fund, and he’s going to work with (the insurer) to try to get it reduced,” Devereux said. “It turned out he didn’t pay (the liens).”

Workers’ comp liens are authorized under I.C. 22-3-2-13, which states: “If the injured employee or his dependents shall agree to receive compensation from the employer or the employer’s compensation insurance carrier or to accept from the employer or the employer’s compensation insurance carrier, by loan or otherwise, any payment on account of the compensation, or institute proceedings to recover the same, the employer or the employer’s compensation insurance carrier shall have a lien upon any settlement award, judgment or fund out of which the employee might be compensated from the third party.”

Once a leading personal injury attorney in Indiana, Conour is accused of converting for personal use money in trust funds established for clients who won settlements through his firms’ representation dating back to 1999. The federal information alleges that Conour convinced clients to accept monthly payments in structured settlements, then funded the trusts by purchasing annuities on a yearly basis. But he’s accused of keeping millions for himself in a scheme discovered as the monthly checks that his clients expected to receive stopped coming.

Conour used money from new settlements to pay other clients, the information says, and he is accused in some cases of failing to notify clients that he received settlement funds, or falsely denying that he had.

In a telephone conference Oct. 17 with U.S. Chief Judge Richard L. Young in Indianapolis, Conour said he had not yet retained legal representation, according to court staff. Three weeks earlier, Young granted Conour $15,000 from a trust fund that had been established in the spring with $100,000 to compensate victims. Young approved disbursement of the money for Conour’s living expenses and to retain new legal representation during a Sept. 27 hearing in which Conour severed his relationship with his then-counselors, Richard Kammen and Dorie Maryan.

The trust fund – from which Conour had drawn prior disbursements – also was released by Kammen to the court. A court receipt dated Oct. 3 shows just $39,279.35 remained as of that day. Conour said during the Sept. 27 hearing that he needed $15,000 every two months for living expenses and to pay counsel.

Also during the phone conference, Young delayed Conour’s trial on a motion from special U.S. Attorney Richard Cox. The trial had been set for Oct. 22.

Conour is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 4 for another status hearing in regard to his legal representation. A new trial date has not been affirmed and is likely to be scheduled for January, according to the court.

But according to Conour’s state bar resignation letter submitted in May, the former attorney appears to acknowledge his guilt while the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission was investigating complaints against him that former colleagues say dated back several years.

The Indiana Lawyer obtained a copy of Conour’s resignation letter, which the commission considers confidential under Rule 23, Section 17 of the Indiana Rules for Admission to the Bar and the Discipline of Attorneys.

In his resignation letter, Conour writes: “On April 27, 2012 I was charged with one (1) count of mail fraud, a felony in the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana. … A copy of the criminal complaint filed in the above is attached hereto and incorporated herein as ‘Exhibit A.’

“I acknowledge that the material facts so alleged are true,” Conour wrote. “I submit this resignation because I know that, if the proceeding were to be prosecuted, I could not successfully defend myself.”

A former Conour client who hasn’t received proceeds from a settlement said she has been told that potential losses exceed $7.5 million. FBI spokeswoman Wendy Osborne said the agency does not comment about investigations into pending matters, and Cox said he could not comment on investigative matters beyond those alleged in federal court.

Devereux said he had no direct knowledge of the extent of alleged losses. “The question is, how do you calculate the number?” he asked, noting that many structured settlements had been guaranteed to pay over time an amount much greater than the lump-sum settlement award.

“It’s going to be well beyond $4.5 million and probably beyond $7.5 million,” Devereux said. “The point is, he never actually purchased the annuities, and so we don’t know how much should have been paid out. … Some of these folks should have gotten a couple million dollars under an annuity that doesn’t exist.”

Devereux said he’s unfamiliar with settlements prior to the four years he worked for Conour, and he noted that the wire fraud count only applies to transactions that crossed state lines. He said there may be more victims if Conour failed to purchase annuities to fund future obligations.

“My fear is, come January, there are going to be people coming out of the woodwork saying, ‘My payment stopped. What happened?’” Devereux said.

Quizzed about potential assets that may be available to compensate victims, Conour said in court in September that he believes he may have attorney fees coming to him of about $2 million.

“A majority of those cases came with me, and I do not foresee in any reality where he thinks he’s entitled to $2 million in those cases,” Devereux said. “That’s total fantasy on his part.”

“It’s a bad situation,” said Adley, the Liberty Mutual Group attorney. “It’s bad for the workers’ compensation lienholders, and it’s real bad for the people that were injured.”•
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  • shame on you
    Shame on you William Conour. My son is one of your victims! Your greed has killed the dreams of many people. I do hope the judge shows no mercy, and I hope you are forced to pay back every cent you took! If you read this Mr. Conour, you know who I am. My son's father is the wrongful death case you took on a long time ago and you cited his case on your website too when you were a practicing attorney. Good luck, sir. I hope you find peace in your life.

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  1. 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)

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  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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