Legal Issues and Fraud and Attorneys and Courts and U.S. District Court and Law

Local attorney pleads guilty in $4.5M fraud case

July 8, 2013

Former high-profile personal-injury attorney William Conour has entered a guilty plea in his federal wire fraud case.

Conour asked the court in a filing July 3 to waive a trial that had been scheduled for Sept. 9. The change of plea was entered six days after a judge ordered him jailed for dissipating assets in violation of terms of bond.

Conour is accused of defrauding 25 or more clients of at least $4.5 million. He faces a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.

“I offer my plea of guilty freely and voluntarily and of my own accord,” according to the plea signed by Conour and his public defender, Michael Donahoe.

Donahoe declined comment Monday.

Philip Gordon, deputy for Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, said a hearing on Conour’s change of plea had not been set as of Monday morning but that he expected Young to schedule a hearing soon.

Young revoked Conour's bond on June 27 for burning through tens of thousands of dollars of assets without the court's approval. Conour was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.

He had been ordered to clear spending with the court, in case his assets were needed to pay restitution to alleged victims.

“I just don’t believe Mr. Conour is taking seriously the court order here,” Young said at the time. “I have real concerns that if there are other assets out there that Mr. Conour may dissipate those assets as well.”

Whether victims now will have an opportunity to testify before Conour is sentenced is unclear.

Zackery Condon, 20, of Mishawaka, hopes he or other victims may have such a chance. He was a toddler when his father, Michael Condon, died in a workplace accident in South Bend in 1994. Zackery’s family says Conour won a six-figure settlement in 1996 that was to be held in trust and available for Zackery’s education and living expenses. Zackery says he received just $10,000.

“I’d like to show everybody at least what happened,” Condon said Monday. “I have one thing left of my father, and that is his motorcycle jacket.”

Condon works long hours each day as a truck driver hauling lumber. “I bust my butt,” he said, but his paycheck every two weeks is barely enough. “At the end of those two weeks, I only have $57 for food.”

Conour’s guilty plea won’t do much to help his victims, Condon acknowledged.

“He probably knew he was going to get caught, but there’s not going to be enough for everyone who got hurt in the process,” he said. “It’s kind of ridiculous that someone high up like him—because he was really well known—would take wrongful death money. It’s kind of pathetic.”  

Condon said he hopes for some compensation, although the source of such funds is unclear. Conour maintained a lavish lifestyle, and ex-wife Jennifer Conour received some of his assets in a divorce.

“I think someone needs to go up and tell a story of what actually happened,” Condon said. “It’s not just me that got stuff taken away; there are 20-plus other people. Maybe everybody just needs to hear an actual full story about what he did to them.”

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of Illinois, which prosecuted the case against Conour, said Monday there would be no immediate comment on the plea.
 

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