ILNews

Lawyers say Conour skipped workers' comp lien payments

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”•
ADVERTISEMENT

  • 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.

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

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

  2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

ADVERTISEMENT