Convicted fraudster and ex-attorney William Conour has asked a judge to free him from prison less than two years into his 10-year sentence for defrauding dozens of personal injury and wrongful death clients of nearly $7 million.
Conour filed a typewritten jailhouse motion for self-representation and release on his own recognizance last week before Chief Judge Richard Young in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Conour asks in the motion to be freed from the Morgantown Federal Correctional Facility in West Virginia, where he’s been serving time on a federal wire fraud conviction since December 2013.
“Defendant must be admitted to bond on his own recognizance so he can effectively act as his own counsel,” Conour wrote. He said in the motion his court-appointed counsel “has refused to assist in the defense of the defendant in the completion and filing of certain motions the defendant has prepared and sent to his counsel. … The defense counsel has stated he would withdraw his appearance as counsel and defendant consents to that withdrawal.”
Former Conour defender Mark Inman withdrew his appearance late last month, citing a breakdown in attorney-client communication. In sometimes-snarky filings afterward, Conour writes that Inman said he didn’t read the motions Conour sent him, and that while Inman visited him once at Morgantown, his defender appeared more interested in going whitewater rafting nearby.
“Defendant should not be prejudiced by the inaction of his court-appointed counsel to do anything for 7 months while the court ordered deadline for filing motions approached,” Conour wrote in a motion seeking an extension of time to file pleadings in his resentencing.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in February remanded Conour’s sentence to modify uniform special conditions of his post-sentence release that did not apply in his case, but Conour is seeking to widen the scope of resentencing.
“The reversal and remand of this case, or part of it, has provided the opportunity to correct some of the errors, misstatements and false conclusions and to clarify others,” Conour writes.
Conour, 68, filled two of six pages of his motion for release with past glories, from his “Super Lawyer” status to name-dropping late District Court Judge S. Hugh Dillon to participating in the Ford Pinto trial. He also states he retired in May 2012, but that’s when he resigned from the bar amid the federal case against him rather than contest a disciplinary complaint against his law license.
Not mentioned in Conour’s pleadings are his numerous victims, to whom he agreed when pleading guilty to make restitution of more than $6.5 million.
During the course of his case, Conour has had numerous private and public defenders appear and withdraw, and like Inman, they usually cited breakdown of communication. He argues he should be turned loose from prison so he can provide his own defense.
“(I)f defendant is given a fair playing field with equal opportunity with the government to talk to witnesses, gather evidence, conduct discovery, access the (I)nternet and legal research sites and have a word processor rather than the 1980 vintage IBM Selectric typewriter he is using to type this Motion, then all issues should be adequately and properly bought (sic) before the court,” Conour writes.
“However, if the defendant remains incarcerated and unable to to (sic) any of these things needed to adequately defend himself then the issues will be onesided and the playing field will not be level, but, rather, leveled, resulting in a lopsided presentation in favor of the government as happened before.”
Conour argues that federal code and rules of criminal procedure provide the only legal basis to deny bond while awaiting sentencing on remand is if the defendant is a flight risk or danger to any person or the community.
He argues he “is effectively in the posture of having pled guilty to the J.F. case in the one count Information and is now awaiting sentencing.” He says he’s not a flight risk because he’s stayed at Morgantown.
“There are no walls or fences surrounding MFCI and the corrections officers … do not carry weapons. The only restriction to keep prisoners within the compound are small signs placed sporadically around the perimeter saying ‘Out of Bounds.’ Any person can simply walk off the compound if he so desires.”
The developments come as the CNBC network tonight will premiere a profile of Conour’s case on its true-crime series “American Greed.” The episode airs at 10 p.m. Eastern time.