Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Agents Of Deep State Accuse Federal Judge Of Viewing Porn On His Private Computer

                        (Judge Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals)
Judge Alex Kozinski a federal judge, appointed by President Ronald Reagan, resigned January 1st, 2018 after multiple former clerks and junior staffers came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him. These charges had been made, investigated, and dismissed in 2008.
Judge Alex Kozinski was for many years Chief Judge on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, will resign immediately, according to a statement released by his attorney.
He apologizes for his actions but also defends his "broad sense of humor."
"I've always had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks alike. In doing so, I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace. It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent," Kozinski wrote.
"For this I sincerely apologize," he said.
 In 2008, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the judge had maintained an email list of friends and acquaintances who share his brand of humor, that he used to distribute crude jokes, some of them sexually themed, and that he had a publicly accessible website that contained pornographic images.
 Anthony J. Scirica, then the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, who some believe was murdered while on a hunting trip in Texas near the Mexican Border,  wrote at the time that Kozinski’s “conduct exhibiting poor judgment with respect to this material created a public controversy that can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of the federal judiciary.”
Another federal judge last week said there are grounds to open an inquiry into allegations of judicial misconduct against Kozinski.
"Family and friends have urged me to stay on, at least long enough to defend myself. But I cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle. Nor would such a battle be good for my beloved federal judiciary," he said.
Kozinski also said he is "proud" of the "success" of his clerks.
"It has also been my privilege to help train the best and the brightest of several generations of new attorneys. I was made better by working with them," he wrote. "My clerks went on to stellar careers in law, business and academics. Their success has made me proud and I am gratified by the outpouring of support I have received privately from so many of them."
 A former clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski said the powerful and well-known jurist, who for many years served as chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, called her into his office several times and pulled up pornography on his computer, asking if she thought it was photoshopped or if it aroused her sexually.
Heidi Bond, who clerked for Kozinski from 2006 to 2007, said the porn was not related to any case. One set of images she remembered was of college-age students at a party where “some people were inexplicably naked while everyone else was clothed.” Another was a sort of digital flip book that allowed users to mix and match heads, torsos and legs to create an image of a naked woman.
Bond is one of six women — all former clerks or more junior staffers known as externs in the 9th Circuit — who alleged  that Kozinski, now 67 and still serving as a judge on the court, subjected them to a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments. She is one of two former clerks who said Kozinski asked them to view porn in his chambers.
In a statement, Kozinski said: “I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers. I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”
Kozinski provided the statement after The Post called and emailed a spokesman with a detailed list of the allegations this story would include. After the story posted online, the judge said, “I don’t remember ever showing pornographic material to my clerks” and, “If this is all they are able to dredge up after 35 years, I am not too worried.”
 When Bond was clerking, Kozinski was on the precipice of becoming chief judge for the 9th Circuit — the largest federal appeals court circuit in the country, handling cases for a large swath of the western United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska. The other people who alleged that Kozinski behaved inappropriately toward them worked in the 9th Circuit both before and after her, up to 2012.

Bond said she knew that she was to come to the judge’s office when her phone beeped twice. She said she tried to answer Kozinski’s inquiries as succinctly and matter-of-factly as possible. Bond was then in her early 30s and is now 41.
If the question was about photoshopping, Bond said, she would focus on minor details of the images. If Kozinski asked whether the images aroused her, Bond said, she would respond: “No, this kind of stuff doesn’t do anything for me. Is there anything else you need?” She said she recalled three instances when the judge showed her porn in his office.
“I was in a state of emotional shock, and what I really wanted to do was be as small as possible and make as few movements as possible and to say as little as possible to get out,” Bond said.
Bond, who went on to clerk for the Supreme Court and now works as a romance novelist writing under the name Courtney Milan, and another clerk, Emily Murphy, who worked for a different judge on the 9th Circuit and is now a law professor, described their experiences in on-the-record interviews. The other four women spoke on the condition that their names and some other identifying information not be published, out of fear that they might face retaliation from Kozinski or others.
Kozinski, who served as the chief judge on the 9th Circuit from 2007 to 2014, remains a prominent judge, well known in the legal community for his colorful written opinions. His clerks often win prestigious clerkships at the Supreme Court.
Murphy, who clerked for Judge Richard Paez, said Kozinski approached her when she was talking with a group of other clerks at a reception at a San Francisco hotel in September 2012. The group had been discussing training regimens, and Murphy said she commented that the gym in the 9th Circuit courthouse was nice because other people were seldom there.
Kozinski, according to Murphy and two others present at the time who spoke to The Post, said that if that were the case, she should work out naked. Those in the group tried to change the subject, Murphy and the others present said, but the judge kept steering the conversation toward the idea of Murphy exercising without clothes.
“It wasn’t just clear that he was imagining me naked, he was trying to invite other people — my professional colleagues — to do so as well,” Murphy said. “That was what was humiliating about it.”
Murphy, who was 30 at the time of the incident and is now 36, provided The Post with a 2012 email showing that she told a mentor about what had happened at the time. Two of Murphy’s friends who were present at the time of the encounter, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also confirmed her account.
Bond, similarly, provided emails showing that she told a friend what had happened at least as of 2008. The friend, fellow romance novelist Eve Ortega, provided the same emails. She confirmed that Bond had told her years ago that Kozinski made inappropriate sexual comments and showed her porn.
Kozinski has previously been embroiled in controversies related to sexually explicit material.
In 2008, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the judge had maintained an email list that he used to distribute crude jokes, some of them sexually themed, and that he had a publicly accessible website that contained pornographic images.
A judicial investigation ultimately found that Kozinski did not intend to allow the public to see the material and that, instead, the judge and his son were careless in protecting a private server from being accessible on the Internet.
Anthony J. Scirica, then the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, wrote at the time that Kozinski’s “conduct exhibiting poor judgment with respect to this material created a public controversy that can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of the federal judiciary.”
According to Scirica’s report, Kozinski said that he used the server to keep a variety of items he received by email, including TV commercials, video clips, cartoons, games and song parodies.
Of the sexually explicit files, Kozinski testified: “Some I thought were odd or funny or bizarre, but mostly I don’t have a very good reason for holding onto them. I certainly did not send them to anyone else or ask anyone to send me similar files,” according to Scirica’s report.

Kozinski also testified that he “does not visit and has no interest in pornographic websites,” according to Scirica’s report. He separately apologized for any embarrassment he had caused in maintaining the email list and said he had stopped sending the jokes.
Bond said the images Kozinski showed her seemed to come from his private server, because he pulled them from a site containing the term “”
The other Kozinski clerk who said the judge showed her porn declined to provide specifics out of fear that Kozinski would be able to identify her. Bond said the judge also showed her a chart he claimed he and his friends from college had made to list the women with whom they had had sexual relations.
Bond said that either Kozinski or his administrative assistant reached out to her around the time of the news reporting on his private server, asking whether she would be willing to defend his character. She wrote to Ortega about the inquiry in 2008, according to emails the women shared with The Post, and Ortega responded that it “sounds like a very bad idea to me.”
“I know he brought you into his office to show you porn, I know he made sexual innuendos to you. I know this because you told me so in DC, and you even used the words sexual harassment,” Ortega wrote. “You said you would warn off other women thinking of clerking for him. And if there’s a woman out there he harassed worse than you, do you really want to be pitted against her? Because that’s what it would be. I’m worried that this is what he’s asking you to do — to be the female, intelligent face of his defense and make whoever it is accusing him look like a stupid slut, and then he hopefully never has to actually address those allegations.”
Kozinski was born in Romania to Holocaust survivors in 1950, and the family fled the communist state when he was a boy. Decades ago, long before he was a federal judge, he appeared on the television show “The Dating Game,” planting a kiss on a surprised young woman who selected him for a date. He is married and has three sons.
Kozinski was appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He is an atypical federal appeals court judge — authoring irreverent opinions and not shying, as many of his colleagues do, from media appearances.
He styled one opinion in 2012 not as a traditional concurrence or dissent, but instead as “disagreeing with everyone.” He famously wrote during a trademark dispute between the toy company Mattel and the record company that produced the 1997 song “Barbie Girl”: “The parties are advised to chill.”
In more recent years, Kozinski wrote that using lethal injections to impose the death penalty was “a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful — like something any one of us might experience in our final moments,” and he told the Los Angeles Times, “I personally think we should go to the guillotine, but shooting is probably the right way to go.”

A former Kozinski extern said the judge once made a comment about her hair and looked her body up and down “in a less-than-professional way.” That extern said Kozinski also once talked with her about a female judge stripping.
“I didn’t want to be alone with him,” the former extern said.
A different former extern said she, similarly, had at least two conversations “that had sexual overtones directed at me,” and she told friends about them at the time. One of the friends, also a former extern, confirmed that the woman had told her about the remarks — though both declined to detail them for fear of being identified.
One former 9th Circuit clerk said she was at a dinner in Seattle, seated next to Kozinski, when he “kind of picked the tablecloth up so that he could see the bottom half of me, my legs.” She said Kozinski remarked, “I wanted to see if you were wearing pants because it’s cold out.” The former clerk said she was wearing pants at the time. The incident, she said, occurred in late 2011 or early 2012.
“It made me uncomfortable, and it didn’t seem appropriate,” said the former clerk, who worked for a different judge.
All of the women The Post interviewed said they did not file formal complaints at the time. Bond said Kozinski had so vigorously stressed the idea of judicial confidentiality — that what is discussed in chambers cannot be revealed to the outside — that she questioned even years later whether she could share what had happened with a therapist, even though she had already talked with Ortega about it.
Bond said Kozinski worked his clerks so hard that “there was no thought that I could see him as anything other than in complete control,” and she feared that not leaving with a good recommendation from him might jeopardize her career.
“I did think about walking away and concluded I just didn’t know what I would do if I did,” Bond said.
The other former Kozinski clerk who said the judge asked her to watch porn in his chambers said she both feared what he might do and knew that a complaint was unlikely to strip him of his influence.
“I was afraid,” the former clerk said. “I mean, who would I tell? Who do you even tell? Who do you go to?”
Murphy said she discussed what had happened with the judge for whom she was clerking, and he was supportive of her filing a complaint. But because the complaint would first go to Kozinski himself, then be referred elsewhere, Murphy said she chose not to proceed. The judge, Paez, declined to comment for this report through a representative.
As a judge, Kozinski has addressed the topic of sexual harassment in important ways. In 1991, he joined an opinion that decided such cases should be judged from the perspective of the victims, using what was then called the “reasonable woman” standard. The opinion, written by then-Judge Robert R. Beezer, noted pointedly, “Conduct that many men consider unobjectionable may offend many women.”
Beezer died in 2012. Kozinski himself wrote about sexual harassment in 1992, commenting on how legal remedies could come with unforeseen consequences.
He wrote that men “must be aware of the boundaries of propriety and learn to stay well within them,” while women “must be vigilant of their rights, but must also have some forgiveness for human foibles: misplaced humor, misunderstanding, or just plain stupidity.”

He acknowledged, though, that the problem of harassment was a real one.
“But who knew, who understood, that it was quite so pervasive,” Kozinski wrote. “Apparently most women did, while most men did not. It was the best-kept secret of modern times.”

He Made Us All Victims and Accomplices

For 20 years, I’ve felt it was too early to speak up about Judge Alex Kozinski. Now I fear it’s too late.

The first time I met Alex Kozinski was in 1996. I was clerking for the chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and there was an orientation for new clerks in San Francisco. One of my co-clerks and I were introduced to the already legendary, lifetime-tenured young judge at a reception, and we talked for a while. I cannot recall what we talked about. I remember only feeling quite small and very dirty. Without my prompting, my former co-clerk described this interaction in an email to me this week. “He completely ignored me and appeared to be undressing you with his eyes,” he wrote. “I had never seen anyone ogle another person like that and still have not seen anything like it. Was so uncomfortable to watch, and I wasn’t even the subject of the stare.”

The first time I spoke to Judge Kozinski on the phone came weeks later, when I called his chambers late at night. Our judge had a sitting in the same city as Judge Kozinski, and I had made plans with one of Kozinski’s then-clerks, an old college friend, to meet late at night for a drink. When I called his chambers, Judge Kozinski himself answered the phone. I introduced myself and asked to speak to his clerk, explaining that we had plans to meet up. The judge asked where I was. I said I was in my hotel room. Then he said, “What are you wearing?”
I was taken aback, in part because nobody talked this way in real life. I surprised myself by reporting what Kozinski had said to my judge, who had always been kind and courtly and old-fashioned to the point of being almost saintly in my eyes. He looked horrified, as I am sure he was. But it was 1996. And the relationships between law clerks and their judges are mostly built on worshipful silence. There is no other work relationship left in America that is comparable. Which is, as it happens, part of the problem.

For the 20 intervening years, I have promised myself that if Judge Kozinski was ever to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, I would testify about the dozens of conversations I’d had over the years with other clerks and lawyers about Kozinski’s behavior, about the strange hypersexualized world of transgressive talk and action that embodied his chambers. It turns out, it didn’t take a confirmation hearing to kick off this conversation. On Dec. 8, the Washington Post published the stories of six women—two of them, Heidi Bond and Emily Murphy, brave enough to go on the record—alleging that Kozinski had harassed them when they clerked or otherwise worked for him, or when they clerked for another 9th Circuit judge. Bond says Kozinski pulled up pornography on a computer in his chambers and asked if it aroused her. One accuser spoke of him looking “her body up and down ‘in a less-than-professional way.’ ” Another reported about his fixation on the idea that she should exercise naked.
In a statement to the Post, Kozinski said, “I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers. I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.” After the Post story was published, he additionally told the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t remember ever showing pornographic material to my clerks,” and “If this is all they are able to dredge up after 35 years, I am not too worried.” He also noted that Bond had written a romance novel that featured “very torrid sex.” Kozinski has not replied to Slate’s request for comment as of publication time.
I never reported to Judge Kozinski during my tenure at the 9th Circuit, so my story is different. Nevertheless, I believe Bond and Murphy, because the pattern they describe is a familiar one. It is hard to put into words what felt off to me about Judge Kozinski’s behavior. To start, I would suggest you watch this infamous video from 1968 of the future judge delivering an egregious kiss to his prospective date on an episode of The Dating Game.
Nothing like that happened to me. But perhaps it helps you understand why, even though he never put his mouth directly on mine or clasped my throat, his consistent way of greeting me—with a kiss on the cheek that always lasted a few seconds too long, in front of colleagues I respected if not revered, so prolonged that others noted it—was unwanted.
And yet I still don’t quite know the word for it. In so many of his interactions with me, and conversations around me, Judge Kozinski has always gone one step over the line of appropriate sexual discourse. At the same time, he pushes a worldview that suggests there is no such thing as a line. Both personally and in his jurisprudence, I don’t think he believes that porn is porn, or that sex talk is problematic in the workplace. His acts of darting back and forth into deep sexual taboo became a natural experiment in who would live there with him. But because he is powerful, and because relationships with him are proximate to yet more power, those in his circle got dragged along into a world that diminishes and belittles women. For more evidence of this, you can read this diary entry he wrote for Slate in 1996, describing an outing with an unnamed clerk to attend a lingerie party.
Kozinski forced us all into this mess with him. And still, I am aware as I write this that I should have found my footing, that the women who came up after me, and who spoke up, are manifestly braver than I was. I am further aware that my failure to speak up over the course of my career is part of the reason why it was possible for the women who came after me to be treated as disrespectfully as they were.
I have seen Judge Kozinski dozens of times in the past two decades, moderated his panels, sat next to him at high-powered, high-status events and dinners. My husband will tell you he once fielded a call from the judge to my home, in which Kozinski described himself as my “paramour.” I have, on every single such occasion, been aware that part of his open flouting of empathy or care around gender was a show of juvenile, formulaic bad-assery designed to co-opt you into the bargain. We all ended up colluding to pretend that this was all funny or benign, and that, since everyone knew about it, it must be OK. It never was.
At a different reception in a different hotel in San Francisco this past summer, a friend was so shocked watching the judge greet me with yet another too-long, too-exuberant public kiss that he felt he had to check in with me later. I was mortified, as my texts that night reflected. The fact that I had simply acceded to this treatment, at age 50, with teenage children, took my breath away. I texted my husband and my two best friends. But this was our deal. I’d always agreed to it.
But now it’s 2017, and along with thinking about Heidi Bond, Emily Murphy, and those who came forward anonymously, I am also thinking about those who opted not to apply for clerkships with him, sidestepping an opportunity to get within close range of a coveted Supreme Court clerkship. Like others who have now come forward, I had told young female law students not to clerk for him.
I am thinking about the hundreds of plaintiffs in the discrimination and harassment suits he heard in the years he was on the bench. I am thinking of all the ways in which “open secrets” become their own spheres of truth, in which the idea that “everybody knew” something awful absolved all of us of the burden of doing anything. The former Kozinski and 9th Circuit clerks I’ve spoken to in recent days feel heartsick, as I do, that for the sake of our own careers and professional legitimacy we continued to go to the dinners and moderate the panels, all the while hoping this story would break someday and we’d be off the hook. Some of these clerks are still encumbered by the norms that constrained Bond, norms that stipulate that clerks must not speak out against or question their judges, norms to which Kozinski insisted strict adherence—and norms that, it must be said, are insane on their face if they prevent reports of open sexual harassment.
Everybody knew. This is the problem with a system of “open secrets.” All the clerks and former clerks in Kozinski’s ambit knew and understood that you assumed the risk and accepted the responsibilities of secrecy. Once you acceded to the poker games and the movies and the ritualized sex talk, you helped give it cover and license. To sit at a table with Judge Kozinski was to suspend rules for how judges talk and behave. The swearing and the gleeful overt talk of sexuality wasn’t just part of the bargain of being around him. Our silence became tacit approval of that chambers’ gleeful rejection of the strictures of political correctness and of the social imperative to police oneself.

This story really shouldn’t be about me. I never worked for Kozinski, and even though his behavior affected me, my future never depended on him. But here is the part that does implicate me: When a prominent journalist with a national platform chooses—year after year—not to report on an open secret, or agrees to slouch through yet another dinner or panel or cocktail party, how can it only be about the victims and the harassers? Because really, if you can’t tell a man to back off when you’re 50 and at the peak of your journalistic power, who is ever going to do it? Back in the ’90s, it was too early to report what I knew, what we all knew. And now it is too late. As my friend Rebecca Traister has put it, “the stink got on me anyway. I was implicated. We all are, our professional contributions weighed on scales of fuckability and willingness to go along, to be good sports, to not be humorless scolds or office gorgons.”
I take no joy in this reporting. Kozinski is brilliant and wickedly talented. He has done important work on police and prosecutorial misconduct in particular, and if he is to be replaced, it will likely be with a 35-year-old Trump pick who diminishes women systemically, if not recreationally. Not a net win, if we are even trying to keep score for women anymore.

But if this moment is going to mean anything, it has to make room for the realization that every last one of us who gave cover to this type of systematic degradation and abuse of power is at the very least responsible for calling it out for what it was. We are also responsible for apologizing, and figuring out how we can start to do better. I have written extensively about the gendered pipeline to Supreme Court clerkships. Until now, I have failed to mention that the pipeline sometimes demanded the ritualized humiliation of young women.

For years, I excused myself because I believed that the casual degradation of women that emanated from Judge Kozinski’s orbit was the death rattle of an old America: a symbol of the sad, broken longing for the world of Mad Men, a world that ended as soon as women reached parity with men in law school. Donald Trump and his foot soldiers are proof that this old America is very much alive, and that it’s in fact a full-scale project to treat women as trivial and ornamental and to hold them back. It keeps brilliant women from accessing power and dismisses other brilliant women as hysterics—the “nutty and slutty” character assassination used to trash Anita Hill. It’s disturbing to realize that, even today, the main markers I relied on to confirm Kozinski’s bad behavior were the shocked reactions of normal, good men: my husband, my friend, my co-clerk. Sure, I felt dirty after each interaction, but my feelings didn’t feel like enough.
I always figured I would feel better when Judge Kozinski’s #MeToo came home to roost. I don’t. His reactions to the accusers—belittling their allegations, shaming Bond for writing sex scenes in romance novels—were the reactions I was trying to avoid bringing down on myself when I failed to insist that Article III judges not talk to and about women this way, not at work, and not as we struggled to find purchase in the profession of our choosing. Somewhere along the way I managed to create a career for myself. In part, I did it by keeping secrets. I’d like to be done with that now.

Crime Does Not Pay/Easy Come Easy Go/

( 12/29/2017).  Crime does not pay. Attorney Eric C. Conn recently found this out the hard way. Conn was a millionaire only a few months ago. Now he is broke and behind bars convicted of fraud and bribery. He dubbed himself “Mr. Social Security" and collected more than $7 million in payments for filing bogus Social Security Disability Claims from 2004 to 2011.

In a total denial of all personal responsibility, this former millionaire was brazen enough to ask for a public defender. That is about as brazen as a man who murders his parents, and then throws himself upon the  mercy of the Court on the grounds that he is now an orphan. That takes more than a lot of nerve. It is beyond audacity, gall and even guts. This man has chutzpah.

A Public Defender is an attorney-at-law appointed by the courts and provided by the State or Federal Governments to represent the poor and indigent who cannot afford to hire a private attorney. This is Legal Aid. It is a form of Charity. How far the mighty Mr Social Security has fallen.

He filed a motion December 29, 2017 in federal court requesting the appointment of a Public Defender.

One of the listed rights granted and guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment is the right to counsel; the right for defendants, who are on trial for criminal charges, to have legal aid in federal courts.
Indeed, crime does not pay, nor does it pay well. And the Wages are not guaranteed.
Conn filed Court documents saying the U.S. Government had seized all of his property. He also stated that he had $40,000.00 in an anonymous bank account in the Bank of Guatemala. When he was taken into custody, he was no longer able to withdraw the money.

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Former football super star, O J Simpson, was reported to have $12 Million at the time he was charged with the murder of his Ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. He hired a Dream Team of criminal lawyers to defend him. Led by F. Lee Bailey, and Johnny Cochran, the Dream Team succeeded in securing a verdict of "Not Guilty" for Simpson. A Public Defender is a far cry from a Dream Team. 

Conn pleaded Guilty  on March 24, 2016 to a two-count Information charging him with theft of government money and paying illegal gratuities to a Federal Judge. He was released on Bail. He jumped Bail in June 2017 but he was captured outside of a Pizza Hut in Honduras in December 2017.

He had been sentenced in absentia on July 14 to 12 years in prison. He was ordered to repay $5.7 million to the U S Government (Treasury) and $45.5 million to the Social Security Administration Trust Fund.

Conn marketed himself as "Mr. Social Security". He represented thousands of East Kentucky citizens seeking Social Security Disability Benefits. Their claims were approved in almost 100% of the cases because Judge David Daugherty approved them without holding hearings. Most of those cases have been reversed after Hearings were conducted by other Judges.

Tragically some of the Claimants are committing suicide. They were barely existing on payments of about $800 per month. Now they have lost their Benefits and their Health Insurance Coverage has been cancelled. The Social Security Administration (SSA) stopped paying those Benefits and demanded repayment of past Benefits.The average Demand is for $100,000.00

A judge ruled that Conn violated the terms of his Bond when he escaped to Honduras. He has been  forced to forfeit the property put up for his Bail. That includes his Floyd County law complex, valued at $659,100.
How the mighty have fallen. Like Humpty Dumpty, Eric Conn has had a great fall.Surely a man with such  chutzpah. will be able to put himself back together again. "Since Crime Does Not Pay" perhaps he will pursue a legitimate business next time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Psychologist In SSA Fraud Case Sentenced

Adkins gets 25 years, $93M in fines

 A Pikeville, Kentucky, psychologist's involvement in disgraced former Attorney Eric Conn's $550 milion Social Security fraud scheme and rejection to take a plea deal will cost him 25 years behind bars and more than $93 million in fines, the U.S. Department of Justice announced September 22, 2017.
Doctor Alfred Bradley Adkins (PHd), 46, was sentenced by Lexington-based U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky after a jury found him guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire frauds, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements after a June 2017 trial.
The $93 million in restitution will be paid to the Social Security Administration and other agencies. He was also ordered to forfeit $187,600 in fees.
While Adkins was the final defendant to be sentenced in the case, the book on the largest Social Security fraud case in the nation may never close with its ringleader Conn missing after he absconded from supervision prior to his own sentencing.
As part of the complex scheme, former Huntington-based SSA Administrative Law Judge David Black Daugherty would seek out pending disability cases claimants represented by Eric Conn and assign the cases to himself.
From 2004 to 2011, Conn solicited Adkins to sign medical evaluation forms his office had previously prepared, without reviewing or even evaluating claimants. He received $350 for each approval. Conn subsequently sent the forms to Daugherty, who in turn approved the claimants' requests for disability.
Their scheme obligated SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants. Of at least 3,149 disability cases filed by Conn, more than 1,700 have been deemed fraudulent by government investigators.
Conn paid Daugherty more than $609,000 for granting benefits and nearly $200,000 to Adkins for signing the forms. For his part, Conn received more than $7 million in attorney's fees.
Conn fled from the area prior to his sentencing and was last spotted in July at a gas station and a Walmart in New Mexico, according to the FBI, citing photos from surveillance cameras.
Despite his absence, Reeves sentenced him to 12 years in federal prison, the maximum allowed for stealing from the government through fraudulent disability claims and paying bribes to a Social Security judge.
Conn was ordered to pay more than $100 million in restitution to Social Security and Medicare, along with $5.7 million to the U.S. Department of Justice. He also received a $50,000 fine.
Daugherty, 81, was sentenced last month to a four-year federal prison sentence and to repay more than $93.8 million in restitution to the government agencies
A fourth man involved, Charlie Paul Andrus, 67, who was the chief administrative law judge in the Huntington Social Security Office, admitted to retaliation against an office whistleblower, was sentenced to serve six months in prison.
A $20,000 reward is being offered to information leading to Conn's arrest. Those with information are asked to call the FBI's Louisville, Kentucky, office at 502-263-6000.

  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017

    More Social Security Administration Judges Go To Jail

    Former Social Security judge, 81, gets prison time, must repay more than $94M

    (Above, Former SSA ALJ David Black Daugherty)
    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, August 25, 2017.
    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.
    (Above Attorney , Eric Conn))
    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.
    Another judge, Charlie Paul Andrus, was convicted for conspiracy to retaliate against, a Whistleblower, a former employee who provided information to investigators. He was the Social Security Regional Chief Judge. He was sentenced earlier this month to six months in prison, the Herald-Leader reported.

     (Above, Former SSA Chief Judge Frank Cristaudo)
     The both worked for Judge Frank Cristaudo. He was the Chief Judge over all the SSA Judges. They worked for Cristaudo. He has not been charged. Instead, he took credit for what Daugherty and Andrus did, and he gor promoted. What's wrong with that picture? Is that the new America Way? The workers get convicted and go to prison? And the Boss gets promoted and lives happily ever after?

    Tuesday, June 13, 2017

    SSA Plans To Scrap Treating Physician's Rule

    New Rule May Worsen Backlog For Social Security Disability Claimants

    By the time Stephenie Hashmi of Lenexa, Kansas, was in her mid-20s, she had achieved a lifelong dream: She was the charge nurse at one of Kansas City’s largest intensive care units. But even as she cared for patients, she realized something was off with her own health.
    “I remember just feeling tired and feeling sick and hurting, and not knowing why my joints and body was hurting,” Hashmi says.
    Hashmi was diagnosed with systemic lupus, a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.
    She’s had surgeries and treatments, but now, at age 41, Hashmi is often bedridden. She finally had to leave her job about 6 years ago, but when she applied for Social Security disability benefits, she was denied.

    “I just started bawling. Because I felt like, if they looked at my records or read these notes, surely they would understand my situation,” Hashmi says.
    Lisa Ekman, director of government affairs for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives, says Hashmi’s struggle with the application process is not unusual.
    “It is not easy to get disability benefits. It’s a very complicated and difficult process,” Ekman says.
    Right now, just about 45 percent of people who apply for Social Security disability benefits are accepted, and getting a hearing takes an average of nearly 600 days.
    The Kansas City office’s average hearing time is closer to 500 days, but its approval rate is slight lower at 40 percent.
    The Backlog started snowballing about 10 years ago, around the time Jason Fichtner became acting Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA).
    He says that during the Great Recession, a lot of people who had disabilities applied but weren’t necessarily unable to work.
    “But they’re on the margin,” Fichtner says. “They can work, but when the recession happens, those are the first people who tend to lose their jobs, and then they apply for disability insurance.”
    There are now more than a million people across the country waiting for hearings. Adding to the strain, the Social Security Administration’s core operating budget has shrunk by 10 percent since 2010.
    This spring, the SSA introduced changes to fight fraud and streamline the application process, including a new fraud-fighting measure that removes the special consideration given to a person’s long-time doctor.  (This is known as The Treating Physician's Rule)
    Lisa Ekman says this is a mistake.
    “Those changes would now put the evidence from a treating physician on the same weight as evidence from a medical consultant employed to do a one-time brief examination or a medical consultant they had do a review of the paper file and may have never examined the individual,” Ekman says.
    She says this could lead to more denials for disabled people with complex conditions like lupus, multiple sclerosis or schizophrenia. These illnesses can affect patients in very different ways and may be hard for an outside doctor or nurse to assess.
    She says more denials will lead to more appeals, which will only increase the backlog.
    She is correct. The Treating Physician's Opinion is controlling.
    But former administrator Fichtner, now a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, says the SSA is obligated to weed out any fraud it can, including the admittedly rare cases of treating physicians tipping the scale in favor of their patients.
    He says the SSA can still prioritize applicants.
    “For patients that are really in dire condition and really have major disabilities, I don’t think they have to worry about this rule change,” Fichtner says.
    He acknowledges, however, that the backlog needs attention and says the agency has safeguards to monitor whether the rule is working.
    Back in her kitchen in Lenexa, Stephenie Hashmi’s husband Shawn prepares a family dinner she won’t be able to eat because she’s having problems with her esophagus.
    Stephenie puts on a brave smile, but the progression of her illness and the ordeal with Social Security have made her increasingly pessimistic.
    After several rejections, she’s now on her final appeal. Her hearing is scheduled for November – of   2018.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016

    SSA ALJ's Decisions Have Persistent, Serious and Ignored Deficiencies, Appeals Court Says


    7th Circuit judge reverses benefits denial,  and chastises Social Security process.

    Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner had harsh words for the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of Disability Adjudication And Review (ODAR) regarding Vocational Expert (VE) Testimony: clean up your act.

    The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the denial of Anne Hill’s application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)  and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), finding the Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) credibility analysis was flawed.
    Ms. Hill, 56, worked for more than 13 years at a steel factory where she had to carry steel sheets weighing up to 100 pounds. The manual labor took a toll on her body and she applied for disability benefits in 2011. Her physical issues included total hip replacement, knee pain, recommended total shoulder replacement, and severe physical limitations in the use of her left side.

    Her daily activities included babysitting, but she was unable to lift the child, did chores and went to church, but was unable to sit or stand for long periods of time.

    The VE in her case testified that she could work at jobs classified as light and unskilled, such as dealer account investigator or a counter clerk. The VE, using his own experience to opine on how Ms Hill’s issues with her left side would impact her ability to work, testified she could still perform sedentary jobs such as a registration clerk.
    Using the five-step analysis for assessing disability, the ALJ concluded Hill was not disabled. The ALJ noted that Hill was not taking narcotic pain relievers, but Hill had testified that was because of her past alcohol addiction.  The judge reasoned Hill exaggerated her back pain because she hadn’t been diagnosed with certain conditions, but that conclusion is not supported by any medical evidence in the record.

    “We are not confident that the ALJ would have reached the same conclusion about Hill’s credibility had the ALJ not inappropriately ‘played doctor,’ ignored possible explanations for Hill’s conservative treatment, and conflated a desire to work with the ability to do so. So the ALJ’s errors are not harmless,” Judge Anne Claire Williams wrote.

    Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Posner wrote a concurring opinion in which he focused on “a persistent, serious and often ignored deficiency in opinions by the Administrative Law Judges of the Social Security Administration” in denying benefits.

    He noted the issues regarding VE testimony concerning the number and types of jobs that an applicant deemed not to be totally disabled could perform.  It appears the VEs simply divide census data estimates on the number of jobs in a broad category that includes the narrow category of jobs that the applicant can perform, by the total number of narrow categories in the broad category.

    The assumption is thus that every narrow category has the same number of jobs as every other narrow category within the broad category – a preposterous assumption, Posner wrote.

    “In short, the vocational expert’s testimony was worthless – and this apart from the apparent arbitrariness of his numerology,” he continued. “It is time the Social Security Disability Office cleaned up its act.”

    The case is Anne R. Hill v. Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, 15-1230.
    (By Jennifer Nelson)
    Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Posner in his concurring opinion made the point that he has noticed “a persistent, serious and often ignored deficiency in opinions by the Administrative Law Judges of the Social Security Administration” in denying benefits. 
    He stated that as fact. He did not offer or solicit any possible explanation for that fact. I submit that there is a probable easily explained reason for that fact. It is systemic. It could be remedied but at considerable expense. The SSA could hire only lawyers from the best law schools and pay them three times what the para-legal writers are receiving today. If only lawyers were writing SSA disability affirmations and the case load were reduced to a reasonable level, there would be a noticeable improvement in the quality of the denial decisions.
    The hard truth is that SSA ALJs do not write their own decisions. They hold hearings and decide whether to pay or not to pay the claim. The decision is written by a staff writer who may not be a lawyer. The writers are often simply para-legal low level Government wage grade employees. Many para-legals have only completed a six month course at a junior college and received a para-legal certificate. Then through nepotism, favoritism, or affirmative action and luck they may find themselves at a Federal Agency writing Federal Court Decisions.
    These writers do not have law degrees, but they are familiar with the SSA Regulations that pertain to disability evaluation. They simply choose which of the standard paragraphs in the SSA computer responds to each of the claimant’s allegations of symptoms and puts them into the decision. All of the parts of the decision are already written and are stored in the SSA computer.

    SSA Must Follow Its Own Regulations


    7th Circuit orders disability case back to administrative law judge

    Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) Appeals Council (AC) did not consider new evidence when it was presented – despite its own regulations requiring it to do so – the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sent a disability insurance benefits case back to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for further proceedings.

    At the time of the hearing on Angela Farrell’s application for disability benefits, she was married with two children and extremely overweight. She suffered from multiple issues, including anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and plantar fasciitis. Her initial application was denied, but the Appeals Council remanded her case for reconsideration. On remand, the ALJ again ruled against her, in part because of Farrell’s failure to establish definitively that she suffered from fibromyalgia.

    This time, the AC affirmed the ALJ’s decision, despite new evidence before the AC that confirmed Farrell’s fibromyalgia. The District Court also affirmed.

    In addition to finding the Appeals Council didn’t follow its own regulations that require it to consider “new and material evidence,” the 7th Circuit found several other aspects of the ALJ’s decision independently require correction, including that the ALJ “failed to grapple properly with the competing medical opinions” in considering Farrell’s application.

    Her Treating Physician (TP), Dr. Sarah Beyer, recorded Farrell suffered from several conditions and alluded to the possibility of Farrell suffering from fibromyalgia.
    The other Consultative Examining (CE) Physicians who reviewed Farrell’s file as part of the application evaluation process believe that Farrell only had “moderate difficulties” or “mild restrictions on Average Daily Activity Level (ADL).” One doctor testified there was no evidence of a confirmed diagnosis of fibromyalgia or anything that would give rise to arthritic pain.

    The 7th Circuit concluded in Angela M. Farrell v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, 11-3589,  that the ALJ’s residual functional capacity determination for Farrell improperly discounted the Treating Physician, Dr. Beyer’s medical opinions and that the RFC determination was based on an incomplete assessment of the record.

    The judges sent the case back to the ALJ for further proceedings. REMANDED back to SSA ALJ.

    This is the Case of  Angela M. Farrell v. Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, 11-3589.