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Ex-W.Va. law judge faces disciplinary charges

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A retired Social Security administrative law judge accused of participating in a scheme to improperly award disability benefits is facing state disciplinary charges.

The Lawyer Disciplinary Board’s investigative panel alleges that David B. Daugherty approved claims that didn’t meet government guidelines and falsified time sheets.

Formal charges filed earlier this month also allege that Daugherty improperly assigned eastern Kentucky disability lawyer Eric Conn’s cases to himself, and provided a monthly list to Conn indicating medical evidence that would be needed to reach a favorable decision in specific cases, The Herald-Dispatch reported.

Daugherty also is accused of failing to review the decisions of fellow judges involving the same claimants and knowingly made false statements in the disciplinary board’s investigation.

Each allegation violated the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct, the charges state.

Daugherty, who retired in 2011, faces a possible loss of his law license. The West Virginia Supreme Court must approve any possible sanctions.

“I haven’t practiced law in 25 or some years,” Daugherty told the newspaper. “I really don’t have any particular use for my [law] license.”

He declined to comment on his actions as an administrative law judge and denied the allegation that he made false statements to the board’s investigators.

Questions about Daugherty’s relationship with Conn were first raised by The Wall Street Journal in 2011. In 2013, a report released by congressional investigators accused Daugherty and Conn of scheming to approve more than 1,800 disability cases from 2006 to 2010.

Conn has denied wrongdoing. His law office is located in Stanville, Kentucky, near the West Virginia border.

Sarah Carver and Jennifer L. Griffith, two whistleblowers credited with exposing the potential waste, said they were pleased with the state Disciplinary Board’s findings. But Carver said she is disappointed that the board is the only agency they are aware of that has taken any action.

—The Associated Press


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