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.”
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.
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.