Only last week, we provided updates on the South Louisiana Commercial Trucking Accident Staging prosecutions out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Recently, one of the main players awaiting sentencing under “Operation Sideswipe” was arrested by local law enforcement for a violent crime.
The Recent Arrest
Damian Labeaud, who was a ringleader and “slammer” in the accident staging schemes, was arrested for a January 13, 2024, incident on Orleans Avenue in New Orleans. The victim, allegedly an ex-girlfriend of Labeaud, stated that the two were in a heated argument. She claims Labeaud then placed both hands around her neck and strangled her, to the point it was difficult to breathe. Officers observed scratches on the victim’s face, who also advised Labeaud had a history of intimidating her.
Labeaud was charged with a violation of LA R.S. 14:35.3(L), Domestic Abuse Battery Involving Strangulation. This felony violation could entail a prison term of up to three years at hard labor. According to the records of the Orleans Parish Sheriff, at Labeaud’s first appearance hearing, the Orleans magistrate found probably cause for the arrest, set bail at $20,000, and ordered Labeaud be placed on an ankle monitor upon release. Labeaud reportedly made bail for this new charge.
What This Means for the Federal Accident-Staging Prosecution
The federal judge to whom Labeaud’s accident-staging case is assigned scheduled a bond revocation hearing for February 14, 2024, in that separate matter. Labeaud’s sentencing is still set for February 22, 2024, as of this report.
Our expectation was already for another continuance of Labeaud’s sentencing in the federal matter, after Attorney Danny Patrick Keating, Jr.’s sentencing was also recently continued until April. With this new charge against Labeaud, his sentencing is almost certainly to be postponed again.
While this may mean some delays, it also may provide additional incentives for Labeaud to cooperate fully with federal and local prosecutors. While he could be sentenced to as much as five years in jail on the federal charges, he now faces an additional three in state court. Without any deal in place, the state court judge could sentence Labeaud to consecutive time—meaning his state sentence could run only after his federal sentence is complete. That would mean a potential eight years total in prison.