|Robbie Conn pleads guilty to federal charge
By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer
William “Robbie” Conn, pastor at Jeffersonville Assembly of God Church, pleaded guilty last week to a federal charge against him.
Robbie Conn and his wife, Tanya D. Conn, were charged in a seven-count indictment in July 2017 with defrauding the government of more than $100,000 over six years.
At a pretrial conference Sept. 19, Robbie Conn agreed to be rearraigned and pleaded guilty to one count, according to court documents. He also waived the right to appeal the guilty plea and conviction and except for claims of ineffective counsel, he waived the right to attack collaterally the guilty plea, conviction and sentence, those documents show.
Sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Jan. 24 in U.S. District Court before Chief District Judge Karen K. Caldwell.
Robbie Conn was allowed to remain free on bond until sentencing.
He faces a potential sentence of not more than five years imprisonment, a fine of not more than $250,000 and a term of supervised release of not more than three years.
The charges against Tanya Conn are to be dismissed.
As part of his plea agreement with prosecutors, Robbie Conn admitted that he made a false document and in that document contained a statement that was false, according to court documents.
In the plea agreement, Robbie Conn confesses that he acted “knowingly and willfully” and that the document pertained to a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the U.S. government, namely the Social Security Administration and Medicare, court documents show.
As part of the plea agreement, Robbie Conn admitted to a set of facts set out by prosecutors, according to court documents. They include:
• That Robbie Conn was a pastor at the Jeffersonville Assembly of God from a period of at least 2009 through the date of the indictment.
• In May 2009, Robbie Conn applied for disability benefits related to a heart condition.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) approved Conn’s application and paid him monthly benefits for himself and his three children from then until the date of the indictment.
• Two primary factors for SSA disability benefit eligibility are a disabling condition and inability to work as a result.
In February of 2010, Robbie Conn received a heart transplant. He returned to the Jeffersonville Assembly of God as early as May 2010. Part of his return included performance of funeral and other miscellaneous, religiously affiliated services for which he was compensated, but never informed SSA of his change in status, that is, his ability to return to work.
• On Aug. 14, 2015, Robbie Conn visited the SSA office in Lexington. He completed a SSA Statement of Claimant or Other Person Form (Form SSA-795), wherein he falsely stated that he does not work or do anything that could be perceived as work such as volunteer. He signed this document under penalties of perjury.
• At the time he signed this document, Robbie Conn knew he had been regularly preaching at the Jeffersonville Assembly of God, as well as at other religious-based gatherings, since at least May of 2010.
• As a result of Robbie Conn’s conduct, he and his children received $111,382 from the SSA, to which they were not entitled. Conn also received $26,808.87 in medical services funded by Medicaid, the funding for which he was not entitled.
Tanya Conn was reportedly receiving her husband’s salary during this period.
As part of the plea, Robbie Conn agreed to cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office by making a full and complete financial disclosure, including a statement or affidavit identifying all assets in which he has any interest.
Robbie Conn agreed to submit to a polygraph examination, if necessary.
Robbie Conn also agreed “not to encumber, transfer or dispose of any monies, property or assets under the defendant’s custody or control without written approval from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
Should Robbie Conn be incarcerated in connection with the case, he has agreed to participate in the Bureau of Prisons Inmate Financial Responsibility Program.
The pastor agreed to meet all financial obligations to the court stemming from his plea.
“If the defendant violates any part of this agreement, the U.S. may void this agreement and seek an indictment for any violations of federal laws, and the defendant waives any right to challenge the initiation of additional federal charges,” the plea agreement states.
The agreement states that the court finds Conn to be fully competent and capable of entering an informed plea and that he “enters the plea knowingly and voluntarily.”
Previously in the case, Conn’s attorneys argued that he was not competent to stand trial and asked for a mental evaluation. A mental evaluation was conducted at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington.
The attorneys argued at the time that Conn was having difficulty concentrating, suffered diminished mental stamina and feelings of depression.
At a court hearing earlier this year, Conn was found competent to stand trial.
Signing off on the plea agreement were Conn, assistant U.S. attorney Kathryn M. Anderson and Conn’s attorneys, Scott Hayworth and James Lowry IV.
A probation officer is to compile a pre-sentence investigative report for the judge prior to final sentencing. It will include an interview with the pastor.
Robbie Conn was scheduled to go on trial beginning Oct. 15.