With the addition of nine new indictments, 28 people now have been charged in a federal probe into the staging of automobile accidents in Louisiana, according to U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser.
The nine defendants were charged in a seven-count federal indictment with one (1) count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 and six (6) counts of Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341.
The indictment alleges that the defendants intentionally used vehicles to cause staged motor vehicle accidents with commercial carriers in order to defraud these carriers and their insurance companies in three incidents on two separate days.
According to the indictment, at least one attorney paid two participants to stage accidents in New Orleans. Following each incident, participants were referred back to the attorneys, who subsequently referred the parties to medical providers for treatment to increase the value of related lawsuits.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of five (5) years for Count 1 and twenty (20) years as to Counts 2-7. Upon their release from prison, each defendant can be placed on a term of supervised release for up to five (5) years and fined up to $250,000.00 per count or twice the gross gain to the defendant of twice the gross loss to the victim.
The current indictment involves two separate incidents in which the victim trucking, bus and insurance companies paid out approximately $277,500.00 for the fraudulent claims
U.S. Attorney Strasser reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to the U.S. Attorneys Office, the current indictment is connected to a previous one involving five people who were charged in a similarly staged accident scheme involving tractor-trailers.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Supervisor of the Financial Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Rivera; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni.
Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana