WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX), Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Adrian Smith (R-NE), Health Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH), and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Vern Buchanan (R-FL) issued the following statements in response to the Department of Justice announcement that Eric Conn pleaded guilty in federal court for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain $550 million in federal disability payments for thousands of claimants. Mr. Conn, along with a retired Social Security Administrative Law Judge and a psychologist, was indicted on April 5, 2016 in a Social Security disability fraud scheme dating back to 2004.
Chairman Johnson said: “This is an important step in the fight against Social Security disability fraud. For years, Eric Conn broke the law to get people on disability benefits. Worse, some of his former clients deserve the benefits they receive but didn’t know they were working with a crooked lawyer. Americans have the right to expect that those in positions of trust, like lawyers, aren’t trying to cheat that system and that disability benefits only go to those who deserve them.
“In 2015, Congress passed legislation that included ideas from my past bills to increase penalties for fraud by those in positions of trust, like attorneys. I am committed to making sure the Disability Insurance program is protected from those who try cheat the system.”
Chairman Smith went on to add: “Addressing fraud in Social Security disability programs is not just about going after those like Eric Conn who broke the law, but is also about protecting current and future beneficiaries. When benefits are paid to individuals who are not eligible for the program, it reduces resources for those who truly need access to these benefits and frustrates taxpayers who are expected to foot the bill. I commend the Department of Justice for their efforts in this case and others as we aim to protect both beneficiaries and taxpayers.”
Chairman Tiberi said: “Our seniors and individuals with disabilities rely on Medicare to receive their healthcare benefits and individuals who steal from them and the American taxpayer must be brought to justice. I applaud the hard work of all the federal agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of these individuals. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on the Ways and Means Committee to further restore the integrity of our Medicare program for those who truly need it.”
Chairman Buchanan added: “Investigating and prosecuting people who fraudulently obtain Social Security disability benefits and federal healthcare benefits is a key part of restoring public trust and integrity in those programs. Eric Conn and his associates were able to fraudulently enroll thousands of people in federal benefit programs, making millions for themselves. I am glad to see that fraudsters are being held to account for their actions and I commend the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of these criminals.”