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Conour bond revoked, denied funds to file bankruptcy

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William Conour, a former leading personal-injury attorney, was led from federal court in handcuffs Thursday after a judge said Conour had misled the court and dissipated assets in violation of bond conditions ahead of his trial on a wire fraud charge.

Conour was escorted from the courtroom of Chief Judge Richard Young of the Southern District of Indiana after Young granted the government’s motion to revoke bond for burning through tens of thousands of dollars without court approval.

“I just don’t believe Mr. Conour is taking seriously the court order here,” Young said. “I have real concerns that if there are other assets out there that Mr. Conour may dissipate those assets as well.”

As Conour was led from the courtroom, some of his family members wept and some of his alleged victims embraced in restrained celebration. Authorities said Conour will be held in a federal detention unit of the Marion County Jail ahead of his trial scheduled for Sept. 9.

Conour is accused of defrauding 25 or more clients of at least $4.5 million. He faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.

Young’s decision to revoke bond came after an unusual hearing in which now-retired federal prosecutor Richard Cox was called to testify about agreements that Conour represented had been made with Cox. Conour said an informal arrangement existed with Cox allowing him to use proceeds from art sales and other assets to pay living expenses.

But Cox testified that the government viewed any assets as those that could be used for restitution, and it was up to Conour, not the government, to ensure conditions of bond were met.

Cox said he had been put in the uncomfortable position of prosecuting Conour while also controlling purse strings from the court fund after Conour began to represent himself late last year. The court registry was established for potential victim restitution and for Conour’s legal defense and expenses.

Conour public defender Michael Donahoe grilled the former prosecutor about the proceeds of art sales the government was aware of and for which Conour received the proceeds.

“On no occasion did you ever discuss with (Conour) how that money should be divided,” Donahoe said. “That’s correct,” Cox said.

Donahoe argued in a filing Thursday responding to the government’s revocation bid that prosecutors were stretching honest disagreements over prior arrangements into allegations of perjury.

“Mr. Conour has done nothing that even approaches the commission of a new crime while on pretrial release. Considering the loose, informal spirit of cooperation and trust that characterized the prior pattern of defining and paying for living expenses, the government has not shown, by clear and convincing evidence, that a specific condition has been knowingly violated.”

“It would have been easy for Mr. Cox to say this money needs to go in the court registry,” Donahoe told Young, referring to art sales made while Conour represented himself late last year. But Young said there was no burden on the government to ensure Conour complied with conditions of his bond.

“The point is, he wasn’t supposed to dissipate assets,” assistant U.S. attorney Jason Bohm told Young. “There is clear and convincing evidence he violated terms of his bond.”

Young also referenced Conour’s divorce, initiated by his ex-wife, Jennifer Conour, days after Conour was charged in April 2012. The two signed an uncontested settlement in December.

Young said he said he had serious doubt about whether a judge in Kosciusko County would have signed the dissolution order if he had knowledge of Conour’s wire fraud case, and noted the federal court was never informed of the divorce.

“It’s clear to me what was going on,” Young said, calling the proceeding “a way to transfer a significant amount of assets.”

Meanwhile, Conour also was denied a motion filed this week asking the court to release the remaining $21,000 from the court registry so that he could declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The firm of Tucker Hester Baker & Krebs LLC filed the request Tuesday. Under the proposal, Conour would have used money from the fund to hire bankruptcy lawyers to pursue claims “against other parties holding money which are attorney’s fees due him on cases in which he provided legal services,” according to the filing.

Young appeared mystified by the request. “He wants me to take the little money left in the registry here … and give it to attorneys for attorney’s fees?”

Donahoe said using the money to hire bankruptcy counsel would allow Conour to collect fees he claims he’s owed by other attorneys who took his personal injury cases after he was arrested, and would be a good deal for alleged victims.

“I don’t know that the alleged victims would think that’s a good thing to do,” Young said.

Donahoe claimed Conour was owed a share of at least $2 million in settlement fees to which attorneys “admit” Conour was entitled. When Young pressed, Donahoe said, “I’ve been told that by Mr. Conour,” and that no such admission existed in writing.

“I’m not going to grant this motion to remove what’s left in the victims’ fund, no,” Young said. He said he would consider appointing a special master to handle claims if Conour is convicted.

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  • In summation
    Matthew 23:25
  • About time
    It's about time he's where he belongs. He's taken advantage of people and their trust along with abusing and making a mockery of the system for too long...

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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