U.S. News

Kentucky psychologist convicted in $600 million benefits fraud

(Reuters) - A Kentucky psychologist was found guilty on Monday on charges stemming from what prosecutors said was his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $600 million in federal disability payments for thousands of people.

Alfred Adkins, 45, was found guilty by a federal jury in Lexington, Kentucky, on four counts including conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud following a one-week trial, the U.S. Justice Department said.

His conviction came after Adkins was charged in April 2016 along with a retired U.S. Social Security Administration administrative law judge and a lawyer who advertised his services through the website

“Today’s jury verdict holds accountable the final defendant for his role in the largest scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration in its history,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in a statement.

Adkins, a resident of Shelbiana, Kentucky, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 22. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Prosecutors said that during the course of the scheme from 2004 to 2012, Conn paid more than $600,000 to Daugherty to award benefits to clients for whom Conn submitted falsified medical documents.

Conn also paid medical professionals including Adkins to sign fabricated medical forms before evaluations of his clients took place, prosecutors said. During the scheme, Adkins earned about $200,000, they said.

Adkins also performed perfunctory evaluations of Conn’s clients and altered his findings at the lawyer’s request on certain reports before signing forms claiming the clients were qualified for benefits, prosecutors said.

Based on the fraudulent medical documentation Conn and Adkins submitted, Daugherty issued decisions granting disability benefits in favor of Conn’s clients.

In total, the scheme caused the Social Security Administration to pay over $600 million in disability benefits in more than 2,000 cases, and Conn received more than $7.5 million of taxpayer dollars in attorney’s fees, prosecutors said.

Conn, 56, pleaded guilty in March to one count of theft of government money and one count of payment of gratuities.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this month announced that Conn on June 2 removed an ankle monitor and fled. The agency is now offering a $20,000 reward for information that would lead to his arrest.

Daugherty, 81, pleaded guilty in May to two counts of receiving illegal gratuities. He has yet to be sentenced.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston