Former personal injury attorney William Conour has filed an affidavit in his federal wire fraud case swearing that the government reneged on a deal to delay his prosecution so that he could settle outstanding cases that could have generated about $2 million in fees.
Conour also calls out lawyers who took over those approximately 55 cases. “None of the lawyers who assumed representation of those clients has paid any of the fees owed to me or reimbursed the expenses I advanced,” Conour wrote.
Once one of Indiana’s go-to personal injury attorneys, Conour was charged in April 2012 with a single count of wire fraud. Authorities charged him in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana with defrauding more than 25 clients of at least $4.5 million. Victims and attorneys familiar with the case believe the figure might be several million dollars more.
According to the affidavit, Conour and his then-attorney James Voyles met with federal prosecutors, an FBI agent and an Indiana state trooper in the month before his arrest to discuss potential settlement of Conour’s pending cases and to arrange for Voyles to hold the fees from those settlements in a trust from which Conour could draw living expenses and “pay future client annuity costs or client restitution, should any be required.”
“It was agreed that I would have access to these funds for personal and family living expenses and debt obligations upon approval of (the assistant U.S. attorney) or upon court order in the absence of an agreement. The government agreed to defer filing criminal charge until June (2012), to allow the maximum possible accumulation of settlement fees and expenses into this fund,” Conour said in the affidavit.
But Conour said he was in mediation with a client in late April of that year when Voyles called and told him that a criminal complaint would be filed and that Conour would have to surrender on April 27, which he did.
“The publication of the criminal complaint destroyed my law practice and caused my remaining clients to terminate their contract for legal services with me and seek other counsel,” Conour wrote in the affidavit.
(The affidavit erroneously refers to the events taking place in 2011 rather than 2012.) “The filing of the criminal complaint in April (2012), only a couple of weeks after the meeting rather than in June, effectively destroyed the original purpose of the fund by depriving me of the ability to settle any additional cases to increase the fund by more than two settlements” that amounted to about $150,000, Conour wrote.
Voyles said Friday that there had been no written or “handshake” agreement to delay the filing of criminal charges, though he said Conour had hoped such an arrangement could be made.
Conour filed the affidavit as Chief Judge Richard Young considers Conour’s request for $10,000 in living expenses from the trust now held by the court. The government opposes the release of funds to pay for, among other things, monthly car payments totaling more than $3,500.
Conour was appointed a federal public defender in January after he said his sole monthly income was $2,000 from Social Security. Conour’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 9.
The affidavit is part of Conour’s reply in support of the motion to release funds, in which he writes, “The government refers to the fund in question as a ‘restitution fund.’” Conour contends, “this fund was established to allow the government to monitor the collection and disposition of settlement funds and attorney fees collected between April 3, 2012 … and an unspecified time in June when it was anticipated that, upon agreement with counsel for the government, (Conour) would have limited access to those funds to meet his living expenses.”
The former special assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the case, Richard Cox from the Central District of Illinois, has since retired. The replacement federal prosecutor, Jason Bohm from the Central District of Illinois, could not be reached for comment Friday.