Federal prosecutors who argued for tougher punishment may appeal the 10-year sentence imposed in October for former attorney William Conour who pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud.
The notice of appeal was docketed last week in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the government will have until Jan. 6 to file pleadings or request more time to argue that Conour’s sentence was too lenient. The case on appeal is USA v. William Conour, 13-3643.
Whether prosecutors will proceed with a rare sentencing appeal is uncertain, but the notice was filed ahead of a deadline that preserves the government’s right to appeal.
Federal public defender Michael Donahoe represented Conour before Chief Judge Richard Young and said he was surprised to see the appeal notice filed. He said federal prosecutors told him no final decision had been made on whether the appeal would proceed, and he characterized the filing as a “placeholder” in case U.S. attorneys chose to appeal the sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Bohm argued before sentencing that Conour, 66, should receive the maximum 20 years for stealing settlement proceeds from more than 30 former clients he represented in wrongful-death and personal-injury cases. Conour’s sentence also calls for him to make restitution of more than $6.5 million.
Victims said they were disappointed by the 10-year sentence, but Young said the sentence sent a deterrent message while also providing some hope that Conour might be able to make restitution. Young’s sentence was adjusted downward from the advisory sentencing range of 14 to 17.5 years calculated in a presentencing report prepared by the court's federal probation department.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Conour’s projected release date is in March 2022.