The count in Louisiana now is 26 out of 33.
That’s the number of defendants who have pleaded guilty in connection with the staged accident scam in the state. The number of people indicted is 33, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The total of 26 now includes the guilty plea of Genetta Isreal. The Houston resident pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for being part of the scheme to extract insurance payments from trucking companies and their insurers by staging collisions with trucks, or in at least one case, a bus.
The number of guilty pleas reached by the U.S. attorney’s force in just the past seven weeks now stands at four, with the biggest fish of all so far — attorney Danny Keating, who arranged many of the staged accidents — having pleaded guilty in mid-June.
The collision that is the basis for the plea by Isreal involved a truck operated by Southeastern Motor Freight. The recap of what happened is similar to all the other guilty pleas: A person (in this case Isreal) was recruited by others to be in the vehicle that would collide with a truck spotted on the highway. There might be a switching of drivers with passengers after the collision, and the people in the car would say the truck was at fault for the wreck. Lawsuits and settlements would follow, including in some cases surgeries that likely weren’t necessary but which doctors undertook anyway.
In the case of Isreal, she was deposed as part of the lawsuit that ensued after the wreck with Southeastern Motor Freight. According to the supporting document filed in connection with the guilty plea, Israel “provided false testimony about the circumstances of the June 12, 2017, accident and covered up the fact that [Damian Labeaud, who already has pleaded guilty] had been the driver in this staged accident.”
The 2017 collision is at the center of a RICO action brought by Southeastern. Keating is targeted in that lawsuit.
And while he is the only attorney indicted so far in connection with the staged accident scheme, other attorneys are identified in the various indictments and guilty plea documents by letter, with at least five attorneys — A through E — singled out without identification over the course of the legal actions.
That suggests that other attorneys face the same fate as Keating but have yet to be indicted.
In the case of Keating, his guilty plea in June was to a count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. In the plea, Keating admitted paying Labeaud for 31 staged accidents, representing 77 clients involved in the collisions, and collected settlements of approximately $1.5 million. His cut of that was about $358,000. He faces a sentence of five years.
The other guilty pleas in the past seven weeks came from two other individuals who pleaded guilty on June 23.