A fugitive Kentucky lawyer who disappeared six months ago before facing a prison sentence for his central role in a massive Social Security fraud case has been captured in Honduras and will be returned to the US, officials said. Eric Conn was captured by a SWAT team as he came out of a restaurant in the coastal city of La Ceiba, the Honduras public magistrate's office said Monday. The office said the arrest was "the product of arduous intelligence, surveillance, and tailing by the agents," per the AP. Conn's capture was cheered by his former clients and their families, who have struggled to make ends meet while fighting to keep their Social Security disability checks. "That's wonderful," said Donna Dye, whose husband was among Conn's clients in Appalachia. "I never thought they would catch him."
US federal agents spent months tracking Conn, who cut off his electronic monitor and fled in June. The flamboyant attorney had been on home detention while awaiting sentencing, but he disappeared while in Lexington, Kentucky, at the permission of federal authorities to meet with his attorney and prosecutors. Conn pleaded guilty in March to stealing from the federal government and bribing a judge in a more than $500 million Social Security fraud case. His sentencing went on without him last summer, when he was given a 12-year prison term—the maximum possible. Conn represented thousands in successful claims for Social Security benefits. But his empire crumbled when authorities discovered he had been bribing a doctor and judge to approve disability claims based on fake medical evidence.