Disability lawyer featured on ‘60 Minutes’ takes Fifth during Senate committee hearing
By Martha Neil
Oct 8, 2013, 10:35 am CST
A high-earning Kentucky disability lawyer featured in a 60 Minutes television segment that aired Sunday subsequently took the Fifth during a U.S. Senate committee hearing.
Eric Conn told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that his lawyer had explained in an Oct. 7 letter why he wished to invoke his constitutional right not to testify, WYMT reports. He also declined to discuss his work helping disabled individuals get federal benefits when he spoke briefly with a reporter during the 60 Minutes program.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is also a physician, spearheaded the committee's two-year probe into claimed Social Security Disability Insurance fraud. He said an investigative report "details how one lawyer, one judge, and a group of doctors financially benefited by working together to manufacture bogus, fraudulent medical evidence to award disability benefits to over 1,800 people."
The report says Conn and a now-retired West Virginia administrative law judge began communicating with each other on disposable, prepaid cellphones after Senate staffers and the Social Security Administration's inspector general opened an investigation, Fox News reports.
Conn is also accused of destroying computer hard drives from his office and contracting, along with the judge, to shred some 13 tons of documents, the station says.
The report says Conn was paid $4.5 million in legal fees by the Social Security Administration between 2006 and 2010.
ABAJournal.com: "Report accuses judge and disability lawyer of defrauding Social Security Administration"
The Hill: "Senate report finds disability benefits fraud'
Lexington Herald-Leader: "Kentucky disability lawyer pleads guilty to campaign-finance violation"
The Nation: "‘60 Minutes’ Gets Disability Insurance All Wrong"
Updated at 12:22 p.m. to correct the spelling of Eric Conn's name.