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Report outlines Conn's judicial relationships

Nov. 04, 2013 @ 09:35 AM

HUNTINGTON — Mov­ies, clothing, employment, all­expense paid trips and record deals were all part of efforts disability attorney Eric C. Conn made to curry favor with county, state and federal judges, accord­ing to a report that details a two­year investigation by members of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Gov­ernmental Affairs.

Investigators linked Conn to six judges, identified as then-Administrative Law Judges Charles Paul Andrus, William T. Gitlow, David B. Daugherty and Algernon W. Tinsley, along with Pike County, Ky., District Judge Darrel H. Mullins and Kentucky Supreme Court Jus­tice Will T. Scott.

Then-Administrative Law Judge Charles Paul Andrus

The Andrus relationship involved efforts to accommo­date Conn’s schedule, during which Andrus told a supervising judge they went to a movie and paid their own way. They also joined each other for lunch.

Andrus told the supervising judge he believed Conn was comfortable with the idea, as the attorney also offered to take Andrus on all-expense paid trips to Russia and Brazil. Andrus turned down both trips, according to an email to the supervising judge included in the Senate report.

Andrus also admitted in a signed statement to having accepted a package of DVDs from Conn “for the office.” He believed the DVDs were “prob­ably pirated from Thailand” and claimed to have “shredded them,” according to the Senate repor t .

Then-Administrative Law Judge David B. Daugherty

The Daugherty relationship involved apparent collaboration in processing Conn’s case. The report did not specify any gifts or favors given to the judge, although it raised questions about $96,000 in unexplained cash deposits placed into accounts belonging to Daugh­erty and his daughter between 2003 and 2011.

Daugherty refused to explain the source of those deposits when asked by Senate investiga­tors, the report states.

It further notes Conn’s prac­tice of paying for business expenses with cash and not having a company credit card until recently. It states the company withdrew $9,000 to $10,000 twice a month, typi­cally marking it as “petty cash.” Such withdrawals by Conn’s mother, Pat, totaled $616,500 from November 2005 to May 201 1 .

The report notes Conn’s for­mer employee, Jamie Slone, questioned Conn about his interactions with Daugherty in spring 2010, saying she had a theory believing Conn and Daugherty would meet once a mont h .

“Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” the report recorded as Conn’s response.

Then-Administrative Law Judge William T. Gitlow

The Gitlow relationship involved the judge having a “great deal of respect” for Conn. The report states they enjoyed talking Social Security law and that Gitlow recommended Conn for a roundtable known as the Association of Administrative Law Judges, despite the attor­ney having withdrawn cases he knew Gitlow would deny.

Their relationship, like Andrus’, also involved items from Thailand. The report quotes a Conn staffer in stat­ing Gitlow sent his clothing measurements to Conn’s tailor in Thailand, but refused the estimated $20 shirts and never paid Conn, saying they did not fit properly.

The Senate report cited Homeland Security records in stating Conn returned from the country in October 2010 with $600 in men’s suits and $100 in men’s shoes, which it fur­ther states employees at Conn’s office said were brought into the United States for Gitlow.

Then-Administrative Law Judge Algernon W. Tinsley

The Tinsley relationship involved the judge’s need for a job, amid what the report char­acterizes as Andrus’ attempt to deal with a low-producing judge with time and attendance issues. It led to Tinsley’s suspension and eventual retirement.

The report states Conn befriended Tinsley as Andrus suggested he retire. Tinsley told investigators he believed it was part of a deal brokered by Andrus and Conn to get him off the bench, while benefiting Conn’s law practice.

Conn and Tinsley discussed potential employment at the law firm, a position he eventu­ally took in early 2010 with the fanfare of a Conn press release touting his hiring of a former judge. The deal also included Conn staffers assisting Tinsley with his retirement papers, the report states.

Pike County, Ky., District Judge Darrel H. Mullins

The Mullins relationship involved Conn’s support of that judge’s music endeavors, while the report states Mullins heard cases involving Conn claimants who refused to pay for medical evaluations that supported their Social Security claims.

Conn’s support of Mullins’ music included hiring his band to perform at a wedding, in which documents in a related lawsuit put the price at $4,000. Conn also financed the pro­duction and distribution of a compact disc that featured the judge’s music.

Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott

The report does not state a specific relationship with Scott, but indicates Conn went to sig­nificant effort to support Scott’s campaign for the state Supreme Court. It notes Conn ordered an employee to purchase 10, $1,000 money orders and donate each to the campaign in the names of separate individuals, as elec­tions laws barred any donation exceeding $1,000.

The Scott campaign returned those donations, however anoth­er attorney at The Conn Law Firm then requested two addi­tional $1,000 money orders be generated to assist that attorney and his wife in their support of Scott’s campaign, the report states .

Conn was eventually charged with a felony election law viola­tion, to which he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. He apologized with orders to pay $5,600 in restitution to cover costs associated with the state Attorney General investiga­t ion .

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohn­sonHD and via Twitter @curtis­johnsonHD.
 

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