Eric Christopher Conn of Pikeville, Kentucky, entered the guilty plea Friday before U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky, according to officials at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Justice Department lawyers accused Conn of working with a former Social Security Administration and multiple doctors to submit falsified medical documents to the SSA disability claim determination system.
Conn admitted, in connection with the guilty plea, that he paid an administrative law judge about $10,000 a month to award disability benefits to clients, according to court documents.
Conn and his lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
Conn denied the allegations in earlier court documents. On March 13, he submitted a written response continuing to deny the government’s allegations.
“Conn successfully obtained benefits for his clients,” according to the pleadings. “But who other than the SSA in its claw back attempts here, and in terminating existing benefits based on some association theory, has said the claims were false and the awards ill-gotten?”
Conn asserted his constitutional right against self-incrimination at some points during testimony, and the government’s efforts to seek summary judgment against Conn “with regard to penalties is not appropriate,” according to the pleadings. “By forcefully seeking criminal penalties the United States should not benefit from Conn being, practically speaking, forced into interposing his constitutional right against self-incrimination.”
Republicans at the House Ways & Means Committee hailed the announcement of the guilty plea as an important step in efforts to fight SSDI fraud.