Apple TV+  celebrated the world premiere of its documentary series “The Big Conn” at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.  The four-part documentary series tells the unbelievable true story of larger-than-life attorney Eric C. Conn, who defrauded the government and taxpayers over half a billion dollars in the largest Social Security fraud case in United States history. 

Guests on the carpet included whistleblowers Sarah Carver and Jennifer Griffith, who both spent years working under a corrupt judge and a system that rewarded Conn’s brazen bribery and immense caseload. “You couldn’t work in our social security disability office and not know the underhanded dealings that were going on,” Carver told Awards Focus. “Jennifer Griffith and I were made examples of to the other employees, in that, if someone comes forward then they’ll face real repercussions at work.” 

The stress of being isolated at work and subsequently followed during her days off pushed Carver to a dark place. “Judge Charlie Andrus was behind someone following me during my days off as well as being directly involved in the fraud,” Carver said. “He received only six months in jail for his actions and harassment.”

For Jennifer Griffith, the stress and pressure at the office became too much, forcing her to leave the well-paying job. “My life would be better if I were still receiving the government salary at a job I was very good at,” Griffith shares. “It’s hard to find good paying jobs in Appalachia and I’ve faced financial hardships because I was driven out of that position.”

When it comes to legal recourse against their former employees and coworkers, both Griffith and Carver are limited in the actions they can take. “We’re barred from bringing legal action against the officials who harassed us,” Jennifer Griffith shared on the red carpet. “Most of the people in that office are now gone, but not because they were fired… they were allowed to retire with full benefits.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 3 : Sarah Carver, Jennifer Griffith and Damian Peletta attend Apple’s “The Big Conn” premiere screening at The Pacific Design Center. “The Big Conn” will debut globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, May 6th, 2022.

The Emmy Award-nominated filmmaking duo of James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte (McMillion$) were also on hand to celebrate the launch of their new series. “The podcast is out on May 6th as a companion piece that also lives on its own with new characters and sections of Eric Conn’s manuscript,” Lazarte shared. “With Sarah and Jennifer, they shined a light on something that this documentary will continue to shine a light on we hope.”

“In this small community, people who truly needed this disability money were going to the guy who could get them their disability benefits the fastest,” Lee Hernandez said. “People are still fighting to get their benefits back, good honest people who didn’t know anything fraudulent was going on.” 

The filmmaking duo also serve as executive producers alongside Peter King, Matt Kaye and Shannon Pence and FunMeter productions.  Both Lee Hernandez and Lazarte hope that accountability will ultimately be taken by the Social Security Administration, as the administration has never had to publicly answer for this catastrophic scandal. 

LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 3 : James Lee Hernandez and Brian Lazarte attend Apple’s “The Big Conn” premiere screening at The Pacific Design Center. “The Big Conn” will debut globally on Apple TV+ on Friday, May 6th, 2022.

The documentary series premieres on May 6, alongside an Apple TV+ Original companion podcast, exploring Conn’s con and outrageous lifestyle further with additional interviews and behind-the-scenes details.

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a voting member of the Television Academy, Critics Choice Association, and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (the SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's "Behind the Slate" Screening Series and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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