Three participants in the Louisiana staged accident scam received sentences of probation but no jail time late last week.
Additionally, the three were sentenced on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. All other defendants in the case who pleaded guilty were indicted on charges of mail fraud.
The three defendants sentenced were Lucinda Thomas, 67; Mary Wade, 58; and Judy Williams, 62.
But a statement from the office of the U.S. attorney for Louisiana’s Eastern District, Duane Evans, also noted that Damian Labeaud will be sentenced May 25. Labeaud is a key figure in the scheme, in which cars intentionally collided with trucks, and in one case a bus, to generate lawsuits that paid the individuals riding in the cars. Labeaud has been frequently cited in other statements by the U.S. attorney’s office and pleaded guilty in 2020. He has been cooperating with prosecutors since then.
Dashontae Young, 27, who pleaded guilty along with Thomas, Wade and Williams almost three years ago, will be sentenced Feb. 2, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
The sentences handed down to Thomas, Wade and Williams each were five years of probation, $43,000 in restitution and a $100 special assessment fee. The three of them had received the same payout from insurers: $7,500 each.
Sentences in the cases have ranged from probation to home incarceration to four years in jail.
All of the defendants who were just sentenced, as well as Young and Labeaud, were involved in an accident masterminded by New Orleans attorney Danny Keating, who was identified in the latest news release as Patrick though has been repeatedly referred to as Danny in other announcements. Keating is the only attorney who has been indicted in the case. He pleaded guilty in June 2021 and has not been sentenced but is cooperating with the U.S. attorney’s office.
The biggest missing piece of the case remains potential indictments of attorneys listed in many of the indictments as A through E. Those attorneys worked with the various “slammers” and “spotters,” the terms for the individuals in the cars who created the collisions. None have been identified publicly.
Some of the indictments also suggest that persons who were involved in the staged accidents underwent unnecessary surgeries to boost the size of the payouts that would be made by trucking and insurance companies.
In the June 6, 2017, staged accident that led to the indictment of the recently sentenced felons, a Freightliner driven by a trucker for an unidentified trucking company in Arkansas was the targeted vehicle.
“Thomas, Wade, Williams and Young contacted the [New Orleans Police Department] and falsely reported that Thomas had been the driver of the Avalanche and that the tractor-trailer had struck her vehicle,” according to the U.S. attorney’s statement. “Labeaud then returned to the scene and also made false statements to the NOPD that he had witnessed the accident and that the driver of the tractor-trailer had been at fault.”
That modus operandi, with minor variations, is what occurred in all the incidents that led to the various indictments.