Officials: Lawyer wanted for fraud captured in Honduras

A fugitive Kentucky lawyer who disappeared six months ago before facing a prison sentence for his central role in a massive Social Security fraud case has been captured in Honduras and will be returned to the U.S., officials said Monday.

Eric Conn was captured by a SWAT team as he came out of a restaurant in the coastal city of La Ceiba, the Honduras public magistrate’s office said in a news release. The office said the arrest was “the product of arduous intelligence, surveillance and tailing by the agents.”

U.S. federal agents spent months tracking Conn, who cut off his electronic monitor and fled in June.

The flamboyant attorney had been on home detention while awaiting sentencing, but he disappeared while in Lexington, Kentucky, at the permission of federal authorities to meet with his attorney and prosecutors.

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Conn pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge in a more than $500 million Social Security fraud case. His sentencing went on without him last summer, when he was given a 12-year prison term — the maximum possible.

The FBI office in Louisville, Kentucky, did not confirm the arrest Monday.

Conn’s lawyer, Scott White, said he had not been given any official information regarding Conn’s capture.

“If in fact Eric has been lawfully captured and is legally returned, then … this comes as no surprise … the FBI usually gets their man,” White said in a statement.

Conn is expected to be transferred to the U.S. on Tuesday, according to the Honduran public magistrate’s office.

A photo of Conn distributed by the office shows him with close-cropped, reddish-gray hair and a blue polo shirt sitting at a table, with police agents wearing ballistic vests and carrying assault rifles behind him.

Conn, who started his law practice in a trailer in 1993, had portrayed himself as “Mr. Social Security.” He fueled that persona with outlandish TV commercials and small-scale replicas of the Statue of Liberty and the Lincoln Memorial at his office in eastern Kentucky.

Conn represented thousands in successful claims for Social Security benefits. Most of his clients in the impoverished coalfields of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia had to fight to try to keep their disability checks.

His empire crumbled when authorities discovered he had been bribing a doctor and judge to approve disability claims based on…

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