Former leading personal-injury attorney William Conour has entered a guilty plea in his federal wire fraud case.
Conour asked the court in a filing July 3 to waive a trial that had been scheduled for Sept. 9. The change of plea was entered six days after a judge ordered him jailed for dissipating assets in violation of terms of bond.
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.
“No officer or agent of any branch of government … nor any other person has made any promise or suggestion of any kind to me, or within my knowledge to anyone else, that I would receive a lighter sentence or any other consideration if I would plead guilty, and no such person has made any threats against me if I exercise my right to go to trial,” according to the plea signed by Conour and his public defender, Michael Donahoe.
Donahoe declined comment Monday.
Philip Gordon, deputy for Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, said a hearing on Conour’s change of plea had not been set as of Monday morning, but that he expected Young to schedule a hearing soon.
Whether victims will have an opportunity to testify before Conour is sentenced is unclear, though such testimony is allowed.
Zackery Condon, 20, of Mishawaka, hopes he or other victims may have such a chance. He was a toddler when his father, Michael Condon, died in a workplace accident in South Bend in 1994. Zackery’s family says Conour won a six-figure settlement in 1996 that was to be held in trust and available for Zackery’s education and living expenses. Zackery says he received just $10,000.
“I’d like to show everybody at least what happened,” Condon said Monday. “I have one thing left of my father, and that is his motorcycle jacket.”
Condon works long hours each day as a truck driver hauling lumber. “I bust my butt,” he said, but his paycheck every two weeks is barely enough. “At the end of those two weeks, I only have $57 for food.”
Conour’s guilty plea won’t do much to help his victims, Condon acknowledges. “He probably knew he was going to get caught, but there’s not going to be enough for everyone who got hurt in the process,” he said. “It’s kind of ridiculous that someone high up like him – because he was really well known – would take wrongful death money. It’s kind of pathetic.”
Condon said he hopes for some compensation, though where funds might come from is an open question. Conour spent famously, and his ex-wife Jennifer Conour received assets in a divorce that Young criticized upon revoking Conour’s bond.
“I think someone needs to go up and tell a story of what actually happened,” Condon said. “It’s not just me that got stuff taken away, there are 20-plus other people. Maybe everybody just needs to hear an actual full story about what he did to them.”
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois, which prosecuted the case against Conour, said Monday there would be no immediate comment on the plea.