Indianapolis attorney pleads guilty to defrauding clients
High profile attorney William F. Conour is facing prison time after admitting he stole millions of dollars in settlement money from his own clients.
His fall from grace doesn't stop there. Indiana University is also taking steps to rid its Indianapolis law school of any connection to the now convicted criminal's name and donations.
Hidden underneath a black banner on the wall is a name IU President Michael McRobbie wants gone permanently, and the money that came with it.
It's the fallout from a guilty plea entered Monday by high-profile personal attorney William Conour.
Conour, 66, is a distinguished Indiana University Law School Alum who financed the multi-story law school atrium on the campus of IUPUI. In exchange for his gift he received high profile recognition with his name posted on the atrium wall.
But now he is a convicted criminal, admitting to defrauding dozens of clients out of more than $4.5 million, according to federal investigators.
"I think they should cover it up so it's not teaching people that you'll get benefits by embezzling money," said law student Maria Rizkalla, who added that Conour should be punished.
"It's still shocking, actually," said Conour's former classmate and law partner John Daly.
Daly is the attorney who actually turned Conour in to the Indiana Disciplinary Commission.
He told 13 Investigates it was a last resort effort to force Conour to turn over a settlement to a client who had fallen down an elevator shaft and needed the funds for nursing home care.
"I'm still kind of mystified why Bill didn't go that route because it's a thread that started getting pulled," said Daly, referring to how the criminal case against his former colleague surfaced.
Federal investigators found Conour had taken money from a list of clients dating back to 1999.
IU President Michael McRobbie and the dean at the newly named McKinney School of Law believe Conour's $450,000 donation should go to help compensate his victims.
Daly says it's a great teaching moment for new legal minds.
"It would be a great cautionary tale to say - you know, this is what can happen if you put yourself before the clients. And even if you're a big shot lawyer, you still have to be a good person first," said Daly.
That lesson starts with rescinding Conour's name at the IU McKinney School of Law.
Conour could face up to 20 years on the federal wire fraud conviction. He will be sentenced October 17th.
Conour was initially charged with fraud in a criminal complaint filed on Apr. 27, 2012. An information was filed on Aug. 14, 2012. According to the information, Conour devoted most of his law practice to representing clients who had suffered serious injuries or death caused by construction site accidents, automobile collisions, and accidents resulting in traumatic brain injury.
Conour pleaded guilty to engaging in a scheme to keep a majority of his clients' settlement proceeds for his own use and benefit, according to prosecutors. They say Conour did not deposit the full amount of client settlements into client 'trust' accounts; instead, Conour funded the trusts on a yearly basis with funds only sufficient to enable the client to receive monthly payments for a year. He also pleaded guilty to using newly obtained settlement funds to pay old settlements and debts.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana has been recused in this matter. The U.S. Attorney General appointed the Central District of Illinois to handle the case prosecution. The government's case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Bohm, Central District of Illinois, Urbana Division.