The long road for some victims to recover any of the settlement money former attorney William Conour stole from them may be closer to an end. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied requests to reconsider the court’s decision putting Conour’s victims before a creditor who sued over a defaulted line of credit.
“It’s sort of a light at the end of the tunnel,” said attorney Timothy Devereux, a personal injury attorney who left the Conour Law Firm and took some clients with him before his former boss was charged with wire fraud for stealing millions from three-dozen clients. “At least on the civil side, we’re closing in on the end.”
No judges on the 7th Circuit voted to grant petitions for rehearing or rehearing en banc sought by creditor ACF 2006. The company was awarded a judgment of almost $775,000 by the federal court in Indianapolis based on a quantum meruit division of the nearly $2 million in attorney fees Devereux earned representing former Conour clients while practicing at Ladendorf Law. The District Court also ruled Conour victims Davis and Loretta Beals and their daughter Kristen could not intervene in the suit.
The 7th Circuit reversed in June. Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the panel that under Indiana law, “Victims have priority over the Lender in the funds that the Conour Firm is entitled to receive” from cases that originated with his former firm.
Barring a potential writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, ACF’s case will be remanded to Judge Tanya Walton Pratt with instructions to reduce the award and give the Bealses priority over ACF.
Nasvhille, Tennessee attorney Roger G. Jones represents ACF and did not respond to messages seeking comment. Attorney James Fisher of Indianapolis, who represents the Bealses, said he could not comment on the pending case.
Devereux has said the firm has put the legal fees in trust awaiting resolution of the case. “We’ve always said from Day One we prefer to see the money go to victims instead of a finance company,” he said. “We represent victims and we like to see them compensated when wrong has been done to them.”
The 7th Circuit retains jurisdiction over Conour’s latest appeal of his wire fraud conviction for which he is serving a 10-year sentence in federal prison. Conour has asked the court to appoint new counsel in his criminal appeal, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel, among other things.