Former attorney and convicted fraudster William Conour has asked the federal court where he admitted he stole $6.5 million from dozens of wrongful-death and personal-injury clients to cut him a check for $184,214.26.
He claims the $634,214.26 made to date in restitution is greater than he owed the single victim to which he stipulated in court filings. He wants the difference sent to his commissary fund at the Morgantown Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia.
Conour’s motion comes as he appeals to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals his 10-year sentence for conviction of a single count of wire fraud.
Conour “continues to deny that the correct and legal restitution figure is $6,530,266.32 as alleged by (the government),” his pro se motion says. Instead, he claims he is only required to make restitution to one victim identified as J.F, who he stipulated he defrauded out of a $450,000 settlement executed without the client’s knowledge.
The government at Conour’s sentencing hearing in October “sought to enhance (Conour’s) sentence of imprisonment and restitution by adding cases under the ‘relevant conduct’ aggregation rule in the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines,” his motion states. Conour argues in the filing that doing so is impermissible. Federal prosecutors dismiss those arguments.
Conour’s May 20 filing is in marked contrast to his demeanor when he sought leniency at sentencing from Chief Judge Richard Young of the District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. At sentencing, Young read a list of names and the amount each former client lost in settlement proceeds Conour used to support a lavish lifestyle.
“Paying this debt to my former clients is my No. 1 priority,” Conour said at his sentencing.
Young told Conour at sentencing that he believed his remorse and intention to work toward full restitution for all his victims was sincere. He gave Conour a 10-year sentence, half of what prosecutors wanted and far below the 14- to 17.5-year range recommended in a pre-sentencing report.
The government has objected to Conour’s motion, which was in response to a motion for writ of garnishment that prosecutors filed in April. That motion claimed the Federal Defender’s office in Indianapolis holds about $2,500 in Conour’s money that could be deposited in the court’s restitution fund. Conour says that money, too, should be transferred to his commissary account.
Young has not yet ruled on the motions.
One day after the government filed its garnishment motion April 28, Indianapolis-based public defender Sara Varner filed a motion to withdraw as Conour’s attorney, citing an unspecified conflict. “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 said.
The government said in response to Conour’s bid to reduce his restitution that any hearing before the District Court should be narrow in focus.
“To the extent the Court wishes to consider Defendant’s premature Pro Se Answer and Objection to Plaintiff’s Application for Writ of Garnishment on its merits, it should be overruled,” the government responded this week.
Conour’s appeal at the 7th Circuit isn’t expected to be fully briefed until July.