The public defender appointed to represent convicted fraudster and former leading personal-injury attorney William Conour has asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to withdraw from the case, citing an unspecified conflict of interest.
Conour, 66, was convicted last year in federal court in Indianapolis of stealing approximately $6.7 million from about 30 clients for whom he secured settlements of wrongful-death and personal-injury cases. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on a single count of wire fraud – 10 years less than federal prosecutors sought and also less than the 14- to 17.5-year terms recommended in a presentencing report.
Attorney Sara J. Varner of Indiana Federal Community Defenders, Inc., moved to withdraw as Conour’s attorney last week. “Discussion with Mr. Conour has revealed a conflict of interest that prevents counsel from advising Mr. Conour further regarding his issues on appeal,” Varner’s filing says.
The filing comes just a couple of weeks after the government announced it wouldn’t pursue an appeal of Conour’s sentence that prosecutors believed was too lenient.
Varner’s motion also indicates apparent misunderstanding regarding Conour’s appellate posture.
“Following the dismissal of the United States appeal, counsel has been in contact with Mr. Conour regarding his intentions to proceed with his appeal. Prior to the United States dismissal, it was understood by counsel that Mr. Conour did not intend to proceed if the United States dismissed. That is no longer the case,” Varner wrote.
A day after Varner’s filing, the 7th Circuit ordered briefing in Conour’s appeal suspended pending a ruling on Varner’s motion to withdraw. Conour’s appellate brief had been due May 23. The case is United States of America v. William F. Conour, 13-3753.
Conour is serving his sentence at the Morgantown (W.Va.) Federal Correctional Institution. His projected release date is March 6, 2022.