A federal judge rejected ex-attorney and convicted fraudster William Conour’s bid to reduce his prison sentence Wednesday but lifted the condition of supervised release after he serves his time.
Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana re-imposed a 10-year sentence on Conour, who pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud in 2013 and admitted to defrauding 36 clients of more than $6 million. Young exempted Conour from supervised release after he serves his sentence. Supervised release conditions were identified for review when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded Conour’s sentence. Young at the outset told Conour other arguments on appeal had been waived and he lacked jurisdiction to review them.
Conour, 68, wore gray-and-charcoal-striped prison scrubs and sat alone at the defense table as he represented himself during a half-hour hearing. He was thinner compared with his appearance before Young for his original sentencing on October 17, 2013. He has been held primarily at the Federal Correctional Institution in Morgantown, West Virginia.
At his original sentencing, Conour apologized for the harm he’d inflicted on his former clients, family, friends and the legal profession, saying, “I have let them down, and I have to ask for their forgiveness. … The fault and culpability of this conduct is solely mine.”
Conour agreed as a term of his guilty plea to make restitution to victims, who’ve received less than 10 percent of the money they are owed.
But Conour argued in recent court filings that he’d more than served any time he should have been sentenced to, and that it was he who was owed restitution from the government. Those claims prompted the government to urge the court to remove sentencing credit for Conour’s acceptance of responsibility at resentencing, which could have resulted in a longer prison term.
“Every challenge I’ve made has been a legal challenge,” Conour told the court.
Young said the 10-year sentence originally imposed remained sufficient but not excessive under federal sentencing guidelines, and he declined to revisit his rulings on sentencing enhancements. He said he gave Conour credit for remorse at sentencing in 2013 against the government’s wishes. “At the sentencing hearing, Mr. Conour, I thought, was remorseful,” Young said.
“I must say the documents Mr. Conour has filed in the last weeks and months … does cause me concern here.”
Young on March 7 rejected Conour’s motions to dismiss and for release on bond. “In seeking dismissal … Conour wrongly presumes that he may now challenge his conviction,” Young wrote.
“Conour goes so far as to accuse the government of fabricating the whole scheme and therefore misleading the court,” Young wrote. “Of course, such a brazen accusation does not explain why
Conour, when asked if the allegations in ‘the Information that was filed against [him were] true and accurate,’ responded in the affirmative.”
In his resentencing brief, Conour argued the government failed to prove sentencing enhancements regarding relevant conduct, vulnerable victims, sophisticated means and other factors applied to his fraud conviction. He argued that at the time of resentencing, he “will have been incarcerated 33 months, nearly 6 times the appropriate maximum sentence he should have received.”
“The only appropriate sentence for the Defendant at sentencing is to discharge him from custody for time served and to impose no restitution or fine,” Conour argued. He also claimed he is “entitled to the return of all property taken or received by the government for restitution or the fair market value of all such property.”
In court Wednesday, Conour had little to say in his defense. He said he had participated in drug and alcohol abuse programs at Morgantown and that he’d sought release in order to help his former clients.
“I’d hoped we’d be able to argue those (sentencing) enhancements, but I understand the ruling,” he told Young. He also asked Young to allow him to raise objections to the restitution order because one victim had sought separate relief, but Young said Conour had agreed to restitution as a condition of his plea and any discrepancies could be addressed with Special U.S. Attorney Jason Bohm outside of court.
Bohm agreed to lifting the one-year term of supervised release because Conour will be 76 years old on his projected release date in March 2022. He also has supportive family and is unlikely to reoffend, Young said.
Young, however, denied Conour’s request to be allowed to self-report to the federal prison at Morgantown. He remanded Conour to the custody of U.S. marshals.