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Conour gets 10-year sentence in $6.7M fraud case

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Victims of disgraced wrongful-death and personal-injury attorney William Conour said his 10-year sentence imposed on a wire fraud charge—half the maximum he could have received—left them feeling victimized again.

Conour, 66, was sent to federal prison Thursday for stealing nearly $7 million from more than 30 wrongful-death and personal-injury clients. Several who gave impact statements before sentencing said afterward they were disappointed a longer term wasn’t imposed.

“We trusted you,” a sobbing Stacy Specht said, testifying Conour stole $486,000 she should have received from her husband Wayne’s wrongful-death settlement to provide for her family. Now she has trouble paying the bills and testified she may have to sell everything she owns to survive.

“All I want to do is cry,” Specht said. “You’ve taken away all my financial security. … You’ve taken away everything.”

Conour also took that stand and tearfully apologized to his family, friends, victims and the legal community. “The fault and culpability of this conduct is solely mine,” he said.

“My apology is a weak substitute for their loss,” Conour said, telling the court he hoped to work toward full victim restitution.

“Paying this debt to my former clients is my Number 1 priority,” he said. A court fund contains about $500,000, and an auction of Conour’s assets next month is expected to raise another $200,000 or so. There could be other sources of restitution, but any sources are likely to cover only a fraction of the loss.

Marlane Cochlin, of Columbia City, said Conour took the settlement money negotiated after her husband Cory died in a workplace accident. She faces a mountain of her own medical bills now and needs hip surgery.

“My husband left home one day and never returned. He was crushed to death at work,” she said. “How could you take from us, who had no earning power—a man who had unlimited earning power?

“I struggle every day to stay on my feet,” Cochlin said. Her husband’s settlement money “was meant to take me through the rest of my life,” she said. “What could he [Conour] have bought that was worth that?”

Cochlin testified she would never be able to trust attorneys again as a result of her dealings with Conour.

Chief Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana adjusted the advisory guidelines for Conour downward from the 14-to-17.5-year range recommended in a presentencing report based on defense objections.  

Young told Conour he couldn’t find a case similar to his but sought to impose a sentence that would send a deterrent message.

Conour’s actions were “nothing other than greed to finance a lavish lifestyle,” Young said.

Young said he soon will swear in a new class of attorneys, and he told Conour that “one thing they need to protect is their integrity and reputation."

“You’ve lost it,” he told Conour. “You’ll never get it back.”

Eric Stouder of Indianapolis was swindled out of settlement money Conour won for him after his leg was crushed in a workplace accident. Stouder told the court Conour strong-armed him into singing a settlement he disagreed with and later deprived him of proceeds.

“He is a sociopath,” Stouder said. “He deserves no less than the maximum sentence.”  

Afterward, Stouder, like others, expressed disappointment in the 10-year sentence. “It’s pretty light for what he did, I think.”


 

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  • Nasty criminal
    Hoping against hope that the poor victims get more of their money back than these articles have suggested. Also hope Conour has the decency to take out the biggest life insurance policy he can get, wait out the suicide exclusion period, then off himself to leave some money to his victims.
  • Realistic???
    and I'd say "hell yes"
  • Shameful Act of Selfishness
    I feel really bad for the victims. They have now been victimized twice. They have loss their loved ones and loss the opportunity to sustain themselves. The Feds should look into the attorney's in Gary, one of which I have a gut feeling took most of the money I was granted when I was in a car accident several years ago. She never gave me proper documentation and wrote me a settlement check out of her personal bank account! Now she's a Judge sitting the Bench!
  • Say again? Pity who?
    Pity would mean you believe he’s remorseful; that this theft was just some crazy mishap he didn’t intend…over and over for the course of 10+ years. If you’ve read his background, it shouldn’t go unnoticed that he was running his Ponzi scheme while completing a master in theology in Scotland for several years. He was steeped in religious studies while merrily stealing from widows, children and the disabled to fund his lifestyle home and abroad. We should pity this thief? He’ll be out in eight and preaching. I pity the parishioners he’ll soon be bilking out of their life savings, and I pity most his clients and young family. There should be no pity for Bill… he deserves severe consequences for the havoc and devastation he has wreaked on all those who trusted him.
    • Retirement!!
      Why should anyone worry about his retirement when he has stripped so many others of their's? No pity for this man!!
    • Neither the first ... nor the last.
      I feel sorry for Bill, a brilliant attorney, who has shamed himself, his family and his associations; for the victims who have lost what they justly deserved; and the taxpayers who will pay for his expensive 'retirement'. How many others have we seen (and will see) who have created an unsustainable lifestyle at the expense of others?
    • Are you kidding
      Poor old guy? What about the poor old victims Got less than he deserved!
    • Disciplinary Commission Failed the Public
      Our Supreme Court needs to look into why the Disciplinary Commission failed to do anything to stop Conour from preying on his victims. It took the good work of the FBI to uncover the misuse by Conour of his trust account. The FBI criminal complaint filed on 4/27/2012 indicated he had been defrauding clients of his law practice since December of 2000. Yet the DC did not even file a complaint against Conour until 5/24/2012, long after the federal charges were in the works. The top priority of the DC need to be protecting the public from dishonest attorneys. That is clearly not the case with the current leadership of the DC.
    • Not enough time
      Bill didn't get a sentence that reflects the evils of his crime. His victims weren't greedy, they were people who suffered life altering loss or injuries. These are people who needed those settlements to pay for in many cases a lifetime of medical bills as a result of horrific accidents. These were not ambulance chasers. Conour stole their award money to buy paintings, cars, horses, and had never shown remorse until today. To say that he is an old guy and shouldn't have to sit in jail is repulsive. He deserves life in prison for victimizing victims. 10 years is not nearly enough.
    • He's an old guy
      While conour did make a few mistakes, the fact is that he spent most of his career being a successful and honest lawyer. Should he really at his age be forced to spent years in a prison cell and miss his retirement...I'd say no

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