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2 defendants in Louisiana staged accident case each get 4 years in prison

Higher-level husband and wife pair were more deeply involved than those already sentenced

Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

A husband and wife who were involved in the Louisiana staged accident scheme have been sentenced to prison, and for a lot more time than previous sentencings. 

Earlier this week, Anthony Robinson and Audrey Harris, who pleaded in December guilty to charges connected to the scheme, both received four years in prison.

That is considerably more than the 21 months dished out in January to Mario Solomon. But Solomon was a “spotter” in the scheme, a relatively low-level role in the hierarchy of participants. Solomon also at the time was said to be cooperating with the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, where all the cases have been heard.

Solomon also had pleaded guilty.

In the case of Robinson and Harris, according to a statement released by the U.S. attorney’s office, the defendants were more active in planning the crash.

“[Robinson] arranged for his wife, Harris, his daughter, Keishira Robinson, and his friend and neighbor, Jerry Schaffer, to go for a ride in [his] vehicle,” according to the U.S. attorney’s statement. 

The statement also revealed that Schaffer had earlier been sentenced to 30 months in prison. A search of the press releases from the U.S. attorney’s office revealed no earlier public statement on that case resulting in a sentencing. 

The statement by the U.S. attorney’s office then goes into detail about Robinson’s role, which involved bringing in another defendant who has since pleaded guilty, Roderick Hickman, to actually drive his car into the truck that had been targeted. Robinson and Harris also underwent — at the behest of attorneys — extensive medical treatment, including surgeries. 

Robinson and Harris understood that agreeing to more medical treatment would increase the value of their lawsuit,” the statement said. “Attorneys filed fraudulent civil lawsuits on behalf of [various defendants], and they all provided false testimony in depositions taken in conjunction with the lawsuit.”

By contrast, Solomon’s role never rose above that of a spotter who helped identify trucks that might be targeted for a staged collision.

Another significant difference: The crash that Robinson and Harris were involved in resulted in a payout of $4.7 million from the targeted company, C.R. England, or its insurers. It is believed to be the biggest payout among the collisions created by the accident scam. 

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.