Former attorney William Conour stayed out of custody in his federal wire fraud case Thursday, but the judge withheld a ruling on a government bid to revoke bond until investigators can take a fresh look at Conour’s assets the FBI inventoried last year.
“Some of these assets have been dissipated,” Chief Judge Richard Young of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana said after he examined Conour under seal, outside the view of government attorneys and the public during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Indianapolis.
Young requested the FBI and U.S. attorney’s office conduct another inventory of Conour’s properties to determine whether items might have been sold without court permission and whether that would violate terms of bail. “The court is interested in what remains of the inventory,” Young said.
Conour, once one of Indiana’s go-to personal injury attorneys, was charged in April 2012. Authorities allege he defrauded 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. He resigned from the bar in June 2012.
Thursday’s hearing came after Conour requested $10,000 for living expenses from a court fund, a motion that he later withdrew. But the government insisted the hearing go forward and sought to combat Conour’s claim that the feds reneged on a deal to delay prosecution so that he could settle cases and use the proceeds for possible restitution.
“There was discussion about it, but we never agreed,” FBI special agent Doug Kasper testified of a meeting involving federal authorities, Conour, and his attorney at the time, Jim Voyles, in early April 2012. Conour alleges in an affidavit the government had agreed to delay prosecution until last June.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Bohm introduced an affidavit from Voyles saying that no such agreement had been made. Conour’s public defender, James Donahoe, characterized the inconsistencies as “different recollections of exactly what happened.”
Bohm also introduced evidence that Conour, who claims monthly income of about $2,200 and monthly expenses of about $7,000, paid for airline tickets to Arizona to visit his daughter this month and take his son to spring training baseball games. Southern District probation officer Patrick Jarosh said he had been told that a family member living in Arizona, not Conour, would pay for the trip.
Jarosh testified that Conour’s travel was approved with the understanding that a family member was paying, and Jarosh said “it would have given pause for thought” if Conour had proposed to travel on his own dime. Conour insisted that he left a voice mail message for Jarsoh saying his plans had changed, but Jarosh said he didn’t recall such a message.
Some of Conour’s alleged victims watching the hearing reacted audibly to disclosures such as Conour’s multi-night stay at the J.W. Marriott in Phoenix.
Bohm told Young that information about dissipation of assets had come to the government’s attention just before Thursday’s hearing and prompted the request to revoke Conour’s bond.
“There’s a significant question about whether Mr. Conour has violated terms of his bond,” Bohm said. “The issue should be addressed,” he said.
Donahoe took exception, saying, “all of a sudden, and quite surprising to me,” the hearing was being converted into a bond revocation proceeding. “It’s highly unfair. This is the first we’ve heard that they’re seeking this kind of remedy,” Donahoe told Young, requesting 10 days to prepare for a revocation hearing.
Young later told Donahoe that some of Conour’s monthly expenses – particularly $3,000 in car lease payments – could not be justified for someone benefiting from a taxpayer-supported defender. “It’s a matter of high concern for the court and a matter that needs to be addressed,” Young said.
Donahoe said Conour needed the vehicles to transport children to and from school, for instance, and that he was “tens of thousands of dollars upside down” on payments. Young suggested Conour could simply return the keys.
“The kids don’t need to be transported in luxury,” Young said.
After talking to Conour privately, Young told the court that Conour would continue to receive the assistance of a public defender, but the auto payments would no longer be considered part of Conour’s monthly living expenses.
Young took the motion to revoke bond under advisement until it can be determined whether assets previously inventoried have been sold. Young directed a new inventory be scheduled in the next 15 to 20 days.