Former Social Security judge, 81, gets prison time, must repay more than $94M
A former administrative law judge who took payments in more than 3,100 disability cases involving a now-fugitive lawyer was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to repay more than $94 million on Friday.
David Black Daugherty, 81, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, had admitted taking more than $609,000 cash in the scheme involving lawyer Eric Conn, according to a press release, the Lexington Herald-Leader and West Virginia Metro News. The sentence was the maximum for the two illegal gratuities charges to which Daugherty pleaded guilty.
The bribery scheme obligated the Social Security Administration to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits. U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves of Lexington, Kentucky, called the sentence a “sweet deal” and said it was “not anywhere near an appropriate punishment,” according to the Herald-Leader. Prosecutors said the sentence was appropriate given Daugherty’s age and health problems.
Conn pleaded guilty in March and fled on June 2. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in absentia. A person claiming to be Conn wrote an email saying he fled because he thought it was unfair that Daugherty and another judge convicted in connection with the scheme would get sentences that were not as long as the one he would potentially receive.
Reeves denied Daugherty’s request to delay the start date of his prison term, the Herald-Leader reports. Reeves said Daugherty already had time to prepare for the sentence. He also noted that Daugherty had made an unsuccessful suicide attempt after his guilty plea, and he didn’t want to give him a chance to try again.
Reeves ordered Daugherty to repay the government $609,000 for the bribes he collected, as well as $93.8 million for the improperly awarded benefits. Reeves said he doubted the money would be collected.
The other judge, Charlie Paul Andrus, was convicted for conspiracy to retaliate against a former employee who provided information to investigators. He was sentenced earlier this month to six months in prison, the Herald-Leader reported.