A high-profile Indianapolis attorney accused of misappropriating $2.5 million in client funds was released from the Decatur County Jail on Monday after being held on a contempt of court charge.
William F. Conour, 65, was arrested on a warrant from the Decatur Circuit Court on July 25 after he failed to appear for a hearing to determine whether he had the funds from a $62,395.75 settlement he won for a client.
According to a criminal complaint filed in April, Conour is accused of engaging in a scheme from December 2000 to March 2012 to defraud his clients, using money obtained from new settlement funds to pay for old settlements and debts. Prosecutors charge he kept clients’ settlement proceeds for his own use.
Conour won the settlement that prompted the hearing in Decatur Circuit Court for a toddler who was injured in an auto accident. When Conour refused to produce information from the settlement, a lawyer for the girl’s mother filed a motion in June seeking a court hearing to get answers from him.
Conour failed to appear for the hearing on July 19, and the warrant was issued for his arrest.
He had been held at Decatur County Jail in Greensburg southeast of Indianapolis since July 25. Decatur Circuit Court Judge John A. Westhafer released him on Monday after his attorney, Richard Kammen of Indianapolis, filed an emergency motion to vacate the contempt charge.
Conour appeared at the hearing dressed in an orange jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled. He did not speak.
Kammen won Conour’s release from jail after showing the judge a federal court order freezing his client’s funds until after the federal charges are resolved. Kammen told the judge that he would keep him informed of the court proceedings and that Conour would need to pay restitution to his clients if convicted.
“Under the law, we think that his incarceration should be terminated,” Kammen said when arguing for Conour’s release.
Westhafer said he would defer to federal authorities in their case against Conour because they have jurisdiction.
Timothy Devereux, of Ladendorf & Ladendorf, unsuccessfully argued that Conour should be kept in jail.
“The money’s gone,” he told the judge. “He hasn’t explained to anyone where the money went.”
Conour could be formally charged by federal prosecutors by Aug. 15. Prosecutors won an extension to win an indictment from a grand jury based on the voluminous bank and other financial records the jury has had to comb through, according to court documents.
Meanwhile, Conour early this month relinquished his law license to the Indiana bar.
Under Indiana law, he will have to wait five years if he wishes to petition for reinstatement to the bar.
Conour was admitted to the bar in 1974 and had no previous disciplinary history.
For years, he had been among the highest-profile attorneys in Indiana, representing individuals seriously injured or killed in construction accidents