A total of eight individuals have previously been indicted in a New Orleans-based insurance fraud scheme involving staged motor vehicle accidents. Five of those charged previously pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, arising out of staged automobile accidents with tractor-trailers occurring in New Orleans. An additional defendant, Mario Solomon, recently pleaded guilty to serving as a spotter for Damian Labeaud. Now, on August 6, 2020, Damian Labeaud pleaded guilty to operating as a “slammer” in two automobile accidents which he intentionally caused with 18-wheeler tractor-trailers.
RINGLEADER GUILTY PLEA
According to his guilty plea, Damian Labeaud admitted to staging numerous accidents for various attorneys, including at least 40 staged accidents with 18-wheeler tractor-trailers for one attorney, identified in court papers as “Attorney A.” Labeaud developed a code language to communicate with Attorney A before and after his staged accidents. For example, in text messages, Labeaud would refer to his activities as “fishing” and asked Attorney A if he would like more “of them big bull red’s.” On another occasion, on June 20, 2017, Labeaud texted Attorney A, “Say bro we done here! . . . 3 Big red’s & 2 lil trout as of now!!” On June 22, 2017, Attorney A asked how much he owed Labeaud, and then, later in the day, texted Labeaud, “On way. Bout 10 mins. Had to stop n get some bread for the fish.”
Per the Factual Basis filed by the United States Attorneys’ Office, the most common method used by Labeaud was to wait until an unsuspecting tractor-trailer was about to turn or make a lane-change and then speed up in order to cause a collision on the blind side of the tractor-trailer. Labeaud would pay whoever helped stage accidents, and the scheme purportedly involved recruitment efforts on the part of Labeaud and his associates.
LOUISIANA FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS
The Louisiana State Police Insurance Fraud/Auto Theft Unit is responsible for investigating referrals of suspected fraudulent insurance acts and for the investigation of individuals and illicit organizations involved. Anyone having knowledge of a fraudulent scheme may report the activity to the Louisiana State Police by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or online at the Suspicious Activity link found at www.lsp.org. In this case, the U.S. Attorney acknowledged the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission.