A total of eight individuals have previously been indicted in a New Orleans-based insurance fraud scheme involving staged motor vehicle accidents. On January 30, 2020, five of those charged pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, arising out of staged automobile accidents with tractor-trailers occurring in New Orleans.
THE GUILTY PLEAS
According to the guilty pleas, four persons, Lucinda Thomas, Judy Williams, Dashontae Young, and Mary Wade drove from Houmas, Louisiana to meet with Damian Labeaud, the alleged ringleader of the fraud scheme. They then conspired to allow Labeaud to drive Thomas’ vehicle, locate a tractor-trailer, and intentionally collide with the tractor-trailer. Labeaud then exited the vehicle to make it appear as if Thomas was driving. Thomas, Wade, Williams, and Young then contacted the New Orleans Police Department and falsely told law enforcement that Thomas was operating the vehicle. Labeaud then returned to the scene and claimed to witness the accident, telling law enforcement that the tractor-trailer was at fault.
Larry Williams also admitted that he participated in a similar scheme involving Labeaud, in which Williams and two others allowed Labeaud to operate a borrowed vehicle and collide with a tractor-trailer. Labeaud then fled the scene, and Williams got behind the wheel to make it appear as if he was driving. A passenger then picked up Labeaud after the staged accident. Labeaud then introduced Williams and another passenger to attorneys. The US Attorney’s Office also reports that Labeaud told Williams he had an attorney, Attorney A, who would handle everything regarding a potential recovery in connection with the staged accident.
The charges against Labeaud remain pending.
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 on the Louisiana State Police website.
In this case, the U.S. Attorney acknowledged the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission.