We continue to provide updates for the ongoing federal probe and prosecutions into alleged accident staging rings in South Louisiana. There have been a couple of noteworthy developments in recent months.
New Sentencing and Indictments
Over the summer, three sentences were handed down. Larry Picou, of Gibson, Louisiana, was sentenced to five years’ probation and restitution of $200,000, for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Lois Russell, of Gibson, Louisiana, was also sentenced to five years’ probation for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. Troylynn Brown was sentenced to a lesser degree, two years’ probation, for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. The incidents all dated to 2017. The claims made due to these “accidents” led to almost half a million dollars in payout for fraudulent claims, according to federal prosecutors.
Furthermore, Damian Labeaud was scheduled to be sentenced on August 31, 2023 (more on that below). Not long before that date, five additional indictments came down against Antoine Clark, Dimitri Frazier, Shirley Harris, Adonte Turner, and Tiffany Turner. None of these individuals pled guilty at the time of indictment, as some other indictees had. Make of that what you will. We assume the cases for which they are indicted, or for which they have information, remain under investigation. As with other indictments in these cases, mention is made of several unidentified co-conspirators and “Attorney A.” There was no reference to other unidentified attorney indictees. The identity of only one attorney is known to date.
Although these new indictees did not plead guilty, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana more recently announced on September 28, 2023, that Joseph Brewton of Houma, Louisiana, was sentenced on September 27 in connection with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud. The announcement noted Brewton was a passenger in two staged accidents, both dating to 2017, causing a loss of $392,742.77. Brewton’s sentence was to 18 months in a federal penitentiary, three years of supervised relief thereafter, and $554.638.73 in restitution, plus a small special assessment. While many sentences have been to probation, it is notable Brewton received actual jail time.
Scheduled and Delayed Sentencing
We return to Damian Labeaud, whom indictments name as a leader of some of these operations and who pled guilty in 2020. Although Labeaud was scheduled for an August 31 sentencing, that date was delayed until December 7. This was a joint request by both the criminal defense and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Whether this delay was related to the five recent indictments or ongoing investigations is anyone’s guess.
However, the new sentencing date does not appear random. That is the date already set for the sentencing of Danny Patrick Keating, Jr., the one identified attorney in the far-reaching federal prosecutions and investigations. Keating has been awaiting sentencing for over two years, since his guilty plea in June 2021.
News has come out more slowly than it once had on these ongoing federal prosecutions. The commercial trucking industry has been paying attention to these proceedings to see what the end-result will be. We will continue to follow this saga and report as additional information is released.