Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14) released the following statement in response to disability attorney Eric Conn’s guilty plea in federal court. Conn pleaded Tuesday to conspiring to defraud the Social Security Administration (SSA) of more than $550 million by misrepresenting evidence in claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

“Here we have a shady lawyer who was able to defraud the SSA of nearly $600 million by submitting falsified evidence with help of an equally unscrupulous doctor, and with the assistance of an unethical federal judge, who rubber-stamped the applications. After pleading guilty to the charges and agreeing to reimburse the federal government for just a small portion of what he stole in 2017, Conn fled in the night using a fake passport to avoid justice,” Rep. Speier said. “He was eventually tracked to Honduras and extradited to the U.S., where he is now finally answering for his crimes. That includes the possibility of 27 years in prison and repaying millions of dollars in restitution. But the staggering cost in time and resources spent on this case, ultimately borne by the American taxpayers, is unacceptable. I applaud the hard work of the federal authorities that worked tirelessly to bring Mr. Conn to justice, but we must not let that victory overshadow the need for us to better safeguard taxpayer dollars from this kind of waste, fraud, and abuse.”

“While serving as Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform’s Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements, I had the honor of working with then-Chairman James Lankford to uncover the loopholes and deficiencies in SSA review processes that enabled Conn and his co-conspirators to avoid detection for so long. We worked together in the spirit of true bipartisanship to draft much needed improvements. The commitment of the SSA Inspector General to oversee that process is to be commended. But we can’t rest on our laurels. We must continue to look for ways to improve our anti-fraud programs to combat criminals developing more sophisticated and technologically-advanced methods for gaming the system,” Rep. Speier said.