The latest round of indictments in the Louisiana accident staging case brings the total number of persons charged to 32, with C.R. England now identified as one of the targets of the scheme.
The indictment handed down late last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana charges four individuals with mail fraud, the same charges that have been levied against most of the other 28 people who have been indicted.
What it does not include are indictments against any of the alleged organizers of the scheme, who as in previous indictments are identified only as attorneys A, B and C and co-conspirator A. Those unidentified but much-talked-about individuals remain uncharged.
The modus operandi in the C.R. England case followed largely the same script as the earlier cases. According to the indictment, co-conspirator A, on Oct. 13, 2015, while driving a Chevy Tahoe saw a C.R. England truck changing lanes — on local roads, not an interstate or federal highway as many of the earlier accidents had been — and intentionally collided with it.
The collision then was followed by a switching of drivers between co-conspirator A and Anthony Robinson, one of the four newly indicted individuals. The three other defendants in the case, Keishira Robinson, Audrey Harris and Jerry Schaffer, were all in the Tahoe when co-conspirator A collided with the Freightliner operated by C.R. England but before Robinson jumped into the driver seat.
Damian Labeaud, who has pleaded guilty to earlier charges in the accident-staging scheme, is also noted in the indictment as having worked with the attorneys, co-conspirator and the latest round of defendants. The scope of what Lebeaud and the co-conspirator was involved in is staggering: at least 100 accidents between 2015 and 2017, according to the latest indictment.
In an indictment handed down last month, it was reported that a defendant in that case, Cornelius Garrison, staged more than 50 accidents for the co-conspirator. It isn’t clear whether there was overlap between the 50 and the more than 100 identified separately.
Regardless, it is clear that while the indictments in the case have focused on a few staged collisions, presumably enough to make the indictment stick and get some of the participants in to see if they’d flip, the total scope of the staged-accident scheme was wide and went for a long time.
While some of the earlier indictments list payouts that were large but not enormous, the C.R. England payout was significantly bigger. Attorney A had demanded $4 million in a settlement for Harris, roughly $1 million for Schaffer and $175,000 for Keishira Robinson. The person identified as Attorney C demanded about $4.8 million for Anthony Robinson. The total value of the settlement, according to the indictment, was $4.725 million, with the payout coming not just from C.R. England but also from insurer Chubb.
The indictment goes through a lengthy list of financial transfers among attorneys and defendants. But it also spells out what the government wants back from the defendants: about $393,000 in cash and a list of four cars that suggest the defendants had fairly rich tastes on where to spend their payouts: a Maserati, two Mercedes-Benzes and a Corvette.
One other part of this indictment that is similar to others are surgeries that appear to have not been necessary but which furthered the goal of extracting maximum payouts from insurers and C.R. England. This tends to support the idea suggested by some attorneys connected to the case that the “big fish” indictments to come will catch up with doctors as well as lawyers.
Anthony Robinson had neck and back surgery. Harris had the same; Schaffer had back surgery. The doctors were all identified as having received referrals from the attorneys.
While some of the earlier indictments reported relatively smaller payouts to the “slammers,” as the people involved in hitting the trucks were called, the indicted individuals in this case got larger payouts. The payouts to the attorneys were measured in the hundreds of thousands.