Conn whistleblowers react to capture, doubtful justice will be served
After more than six months on the run, disgraced attorney Eric C. Conn has been captured and has a trial date for his escape charges.
The two whistleblowers, who sounded the alarm about Conn's scheme more than a decade ago, are doubtful that justice really will be served, commenting on Conn's plea deal for a 12-year sentence on two counts, when he was indicted for 18 counts.
Former Social Security Administration employees, Sarah Carver and Jennifer Griffith, were more surprised by Conn's capture than his escape.
"He had bragged extensively to anyone who would listen that if he got caught he would flee," Griffith said. "It's more shocking to us that someone let him out on an ankle monitor."
Conn escaped from Lexington in June. It was before sentencing for his role in cheating the U.S. government out of $550 million. While Conn was a no show for sentencing in July, the judge still sentenced him to 12 years for the two counts.
"They were super duper lenient before and I just don't know how hard they're going to be on him, I really don't ... I don't have a lot of faith in that at this point," Griffith said. "I don't think it puts a big deterrent out there for this not to happen again."
Conn's ankle monitor was cut off and later found in a backpack along the side of Interstate 75 in Fayette County, Kentucky.
"I thought maybe it might happen eight years, ten years down the road, maybe a slip up of him not being careful or somebody seeing him," Carver said. "I didn't think it would be this soon, no."
Conn was ordered to pay $31 million in damages to the federal government along with Carver and Griffith -- both of whom haven't seen a dime.
"They failed to seize his assets when first started investigating and the fact they never did that," Carver said. "We knew from the very beginning that he was transferring assets out of the country and there was testimony to that effect by his former employees."
That's in addition to the 800 former clients that have lost benefits due to Conn, according to Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf.
Carver and Griffith hope for reform in the Social Security Administration and whistleblower protections.
"When you look at the accountability of the agency, that had they stopped Judge Daugherty in 2005, again in 2006, 2007, 2008, 9, 10 and 11... had they stopped this at any point, we wouldn't have this conversation right now and the amount of over payments that these claimants received would not have occurred," Carver said in regard to when Carver and Griffith say they initially reported the scheme and when officials took action.