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Eric Conn Had Help Fleeing To New Mexico, FBI Says

Conn Walmart
Eric Conn, shown here in a New Mexico Walmart, according to the FBI.

This story has been updated. 

Fugitive fraudster Eric Conn had help fleeing Kentucky to New Mexico, where surveillance footage captured him stopping at a gas station and a Walmart, the FBI said Friday.

The FBI said Conn used a truck "owned and registered by a co-conspirator” to a shell company in Montana.

The unnamed co-conspirator also gave additional support to Conn, according to an FBI news release. Investigators did not immediately provide additional details about the alleged co-conspirator.

The truck was ultimately abandoned in New Mexico near the U.S.-Mexico border. The FBI said there was no evidence that Conn entered Mexico.

Compared to Conn at his prime, the man in the photographs looks skinny and haggard. Dressed in a blue t-shirt and dark pants, he’s shown wheeling a bicycle through Walmart and buying water at a gas station. Both photos were taken from surveillance cameras at the New Mexico stores.

The whereabouts of Conn, eastern Kentucky’s famous fraudulent Social Security lawyer, have been the subject of much speculation since he cut off his ankle monitor and fled in early June. (Read "Eric Conn’s Latest Trick: Turning Flight Risk Into Reality")

Conn, or someone who knew a lot about him, emailed the Lexington Herald-Leader a few weeks ago offering details on his escape. He told the newspaper that he used a fake passport to fly to a country without an extradition treaty. These latest details from the FBI contradict that account.

In court on Friday, a federal judge sentenced Conn to 12 years in prison, the maximum sentence for his massive Social Security scam.

Conn pleaded guilty in March and prosecutors agreed to house arrest, as well as monitoring by an ankle bracelet.

Years prior, Conn had talked about fleeing to Ecuador or Cuba, or another country without an extradition treaty, if his scheme ever caught up to him, investigators alleged.

Over the last decade, Conn colluded with a judge and a doctor to award $550 million in lifetime benefits to over 1500 clients, earning himself $23 million in fees. He is one of five people to flee from federal pretrial supervision in Kentucky in the last five years.

Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor, says getting help from a co-conspirator has likely made Conn's situation worse.

“If someone else provided him with any assistance ... the two, or more, could be charged with conspiracy," he said. That would be in addition to charges for failing to appear and any other illegal activities Conn undertook while escaping.

The FBI has offered a $20,000 reward for Conn. In the news release Friday, the agency appeared confident that Conn would be captured.

“Conn continues to become isolated from family, friends, and associates who are turning their backs on him or are rendered unable to help him,” the statement read. “His resources are continually dwindling.”

Eleanor Klibanoff can be reached at  eklibanoff@kycir.org and (502) 814.6544. 

Eleanor Klibanoff is a reporter with the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.