Ringleader admits to scheming to stage at least 40 semi truck crashes in New Orleans

A New Orleans man pled guilty in federal court on charges connected to conspiring to stage multiple crashes with semi trucks to defraud trucking and insurance companies.

On August 6, 48 year old Damian Labeaud pled guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana.

Six other people — Mario Solomon, Larry Williams, Lucinda Thomas, Mary Wade, Judy Williams, and Dashontae Young — admitted to participating in the scheme with Labeaud and entered guilty pleas earlier this year.

“Today, Labeaud admitted to acting as the driver, or “slammer,” in both the June 6 [2017] and the June 12 [2017] staged automobile accidents alleged in the Superseding Indictment. As the “slammer,” Labeaud intentionally caused the collisions with the 18-wheeler tractor-trailers. After the accidents, Labeaud immediately exited the vehicles in which he had staged the accidents and fled the scene with the help of a codefendant who was acting as a “spotter,” or driver of a getaway car.  Labeaud’s codefendants received a total of $43,000.00 as a result of the fraudulent lawsuits that were filed on their behalf for the June 6 and June 12 accidents,” prosecutors wrote.

According to court documents, the most common method Lebeaud used to intentionally cause an accident was to wait until a tractor trailer was making a turn or changing lanes, and then to speed up to cause a crash on the truck driver’s blind side.

Authorities say that with the guilty plea, Lebeaud admitted to staging at least 40 semi truck crashes as part of an agreement with an unnamed lawyer referred to only as “Attorney A.”

“Per their agreement, after each staged accident, Lebeaud would connect the passengers in the staged accidents with Attorney A so that Attorney A could represent them in conjunction with the accident. Attorney A would then pay Lebeaud $1,000.00 for every passenger that was involved in a staged accident with an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer. Attorney A would either pay Lebeaud an advance, or would pay him for the accidents soon after they were staged. Attorney A knew that Lebeaud was staging the accidents and the two would often discuss the accidents either in person or over the phone, through calls or text messages,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.

Lebeaud now faces up to five years in federal prison followed by three years of probation and a fine of $250,000.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Louisiana State Police assisted in the investigation into the scheme.