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May 5, 2014

Daugherty Faces Bar Disciplinary Charges

     Retired Administrative Law Judge David Daugherty faces disciplinary charges before the West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Board. It is alleged that he approved claims that didn't meet government guidelines, falsified time sheets and improperly assigned attorney Eric Conn's cases to himself. So far, despite considerable publicity given to the case, Daugherty has not been charged with any crime. 
     The ethics charge of falsifying time sheets strongly suggests the involvement of Social Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG). How would the West Virginia bar know about that otherwise? It also suggests to me that the evidence on the other charges may not be that strong. Why bring what sounds like a jaywalking charge if you've got the evidence to convict on a felony charge? The allegations against Daugherty and Conn are serious but OIG is acting like they're not sure they have the evidence to prove the allegations. Also, how is the West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Board supposed to decide that Daugherty approved claims that didn't meet government guidelines and how is that an ethics offense?
David B. Daugherty

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  • 21 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If OIG fails to do anything about Conn, its basically allowing open season for fraud in the future. Everyone knows he and Daugherty were dirty as all get out. They can't be allowed to just walk.

    1:20 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    OIG is not doing anything about Conn. They will not act unless the attorney regulatory body in KY sanctions him.

    3:26 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    It does indeed look as if the U.S. Attorney is afraid of his evidence. OIG won't make the decision to prosecute or not. That belongs to the U.S. Attorney. He or she may not want to risk losing a case like this with sensational, almost lurid media coverage.

    5:51 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The allegations against former SSA employee Daugherty are clear. But are there any facts to show that Conn did anything wrong? It's not a crime for an attorney to zealously represent his clients. Wasn't the problem in Huntington largely due to SSA's own practice of rewarding employees for closing high numbers of cases. How many awards and promotion were given to employees in the Huntington office during the years when the alleged behavior was taking place right under the noses of management?

    8:15 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    1:20 - is "everyone knows" the standard of proof in criminal prosecutions now?

    9:58 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So they may disbar a retired ALJ who hasn't practiced law for 25 years. Let the punishment fit the crime.

    10:42 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If you watched the congressional hearings and heard the testimony, you would have heard about fraudulently creating medical reports in Conn's office. If the US Atty wants a smoking gun, we'll they may never find one, but weaker circumstantial cases have lead to prosecutions.

    Even if no formal criminal prosecution is brought against Conn, why can't SSA preclude him from practicing based on a lower standard of proof than in a criminal case? I get threatening letters from SSA telling me that because some clerk thinks they screwed up my fee and allegedly overpaid me, I must comply with what they say or they will preclude me from practicing.

    10:52 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    “OIG is not doing anything about Conn. They will not act unless the attorney regulatory body in KY sanctions him”
    Yes, because we all know that OIG answers to the KBA (Sarcasm)
    @ 10:52 If there is no evidence of a crime then why would SSA preclude him from practicing? Do you want to work in a system where you can be excluded so easily?
    Finally, if you read the claims against Daugherty then you will see that Conn was only 40% of his case load. Which means that there were other attorney’s cases that Daugherty processed the exact same way, let’s not forget that he granted 99% of all his cases. Not only Conn cases, but all cases, so there are a few other attorneys out there that got the same treatment.

    11:22 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Additionally, according to the Senate Report, ALJ Daugherty ( and his daughter) failed to account for roughly $95,000.00 in income. Hardly comparable to the alleged millions Conn paid the doctors. If there were an actual conspiracy you'd think it would have been on a grander scale. I also notice that despite the senators obvious knowledge of the situation, no one ever mentions the numerous contributions made to Amy Daugherty's campaign for magistrate by a handful of SSD reps ( Bill Redd, Grover Arnett) with no connection to her aside from their practice before her father. It looks more and more like a witch hunt every day.

    11:49 PM, May 05, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    SSA will not suspend or disqualify a representative (especially someone like Conn who will raise a fuss in the media) without the applicable state disciplinary body acting; I know this because I have actually raised this question with the Commissioner's office after SSA announced that it found the doctors who Conn paid for false opinions had engaged in "similar fault".

    7:49 AM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    No wonder the average person holds attorneys in such low regard, its because we let the scum amongst us get away with it. WTF would SSA care about Conn raising a fuss in the media? The media has already been all over this.

    I feel like I need a shower knowing that Conn and attorneys just like him are considered my colleagues.

    9:50 AM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    SSA operates on a "social work" mentality. While this is fine when dealing with issues such as providing social security numbers/cards, paying retirement benefits, etc., it does not work well for disability determinations, which are a medico-legal determination and for which there ought to be strong standards that are consistently applied and that ensure, to the best extent possible, that only those who are truly disabled are granted benefits.

    10:04 AM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The link in your post goes nowhere.

    10:30 AM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    9:50 - I can't see you from up there on your high horse. Please engage in the adult discussion by refraining from phrases such as "WTF" and using clear, concise logic to prove your ill-founded points.

    10:37 AM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @ 10:37 AM. Here is a Gallup survey regarding the perception of honesty/ethics in various professions. Lawyers are near the bottom.

    I believe that part of the reason lawyers are seen in this way is that there is not enough that is done to uphold the ethical standards within the profession. I think "WTF" is certainly a fitting term to use where discussing a suggestion that SSA would be fearful of bad press if Conn were called to answer further for the alleged behaviors. All the bad press about Huntington has been out for years. Press about SSA trying to clean up the mess would be good press, not bad.

    Practicing before SSA is a privilege, not a right. And this privilege can be taken away if an individual violates specific Rules of Conduct. From the testimony I heard from the individuals involved, I think there is enough evidence to say that Conn has violated this Code of Conduct. Amongst the violations I heard credible testimony about were:

    Knowingly make or present, or participate in the making or presentation of, false or misleading oral or written statements, assertions or representations about a material fact or law concerning a matter within our jurisdiction;

    Suggest, assist, or direct another person to violate our rules or regulations

    I would suggest that further investigation would be needed to determine if Conn and others associated with his office committed the following:

    Attempt to influence, directly or indirectly, the outcome of a decision, determination, or other administrative action by offering or granting a loan, gift, entertainment, or anything of value to a presiding official, agency employee, or witness who is or may reasonably be expected to be involved in the administrative decisionmaking process, except as reimbursement for legitimately incurred expenses or lawful compensation for the services of an expert witness retained on a non-contingency basis to provide evidence.

    3:58 PM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Forgot the link for the Gallop Survey

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/1654/honesty-ethics-professions.aspx

    3:59 PM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "But are there any facts to show that Conn did anything wrong? It's not a crime for an attorney to zealously represent his clients."

    Is this a joke? The circumstantial evidence surrounding Conn and Dougherty is HUGE. I can't speak for the actual physical evidence and paper trail, but the allegations of egregious criminal activity here is for a JURY to decide on whether a crime was committed. There is too much smoke surrounding Conn and his suspect activity. If he did nothing wrong and was "zealously representing his clients", then he should have defended himself when 60 minutes came knocking.

    I am a claimant's attorney. The Conn and Dougherty situation was an extremely isolated incident. They do not represent the disability lawyer industry. But defending Conn here is laughable.

    4:45 PM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Can anyone successfully give an interview to 60 Minutes and come out the other side without being edited into submission? Just like Benghazi and the Silicon Valley segments they have done of late, news to these people is whatever they want you to swallow. I think Conn did the only thing he could do in that situation.

    4:55 PM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    @ 4:45 - If the circumstantial evidence is huge, as you suggest, then why has there been no indictment in over three years of this? Would you have rolled out the red carpet for Steve Kroft? The man was on a witch hunt and Conn was within his rights to protect his financial interest.

    Also, if there was "too much smoke" surrounding Mr. Conn, then the same smoke surrounds the other attorneys who appeared before ALJ Daugherty - i.e., Grover Arnett and William Redd. Shame that they are never mentioned.

    10:05 PM, May 06, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Everyone is entitled to defend themselves. I'm not sure "everyone was doing it" is a viable one. I think we as taxpayers are entitled to more answers than we have been given thus far.

    4:20 PM, May 07, 2014  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I agree with the earlier point about lawyers not holding each other up to the ethical standards we are supposed to.

    I know all of you fellow lawyers have seen misconduct and not reported it. Heck, I can't tell you how many times partners, supervisors, judges, other lawyers, etc., counseled me to just "let it go" because the misconduct was not that big a deal or would cause such a big stink for what it was, etc.

    The bar has a very similar mentality to cops (and I guess most every professional organization) like the blue line mentality--we "protect" our own and do not "rat" on them unless it's something really, really egregious (and sometimes not even then). This is a disservice to the practice of law and everyone involved.

    I urge all lawyers and nonlawyers to report unethical behavior to your local bar. I guess I'm really talking to my privately-employed comrades--we feds cannot do so since we are not allowed to make our own reports to State Bars and must take them up the flag pole and hope someone at OGC/OIG cares to pursue.

    9:32 AM, May 08, 2014  

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