Authorities announced on Thursday that a New Orleans personal injury attorney joined dozens of others in pleading guilty to charges related to a wide-spread scheme to stage semi truck crashes in order to defraud trucking and insurance companies.

On June 17, 52 year old lawyer Danny Patrick Keating Jr., 52, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud in U.S. District Court.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Keating is the 33rd person charged in a federal investigation into the New Orleans staged truck crash scheme. Keating is the 22nd person of those 33 indicted to plead guilty.

Authorities say that Keating admitted to conspiring with “ringleader” Damian Labeaud and others to defraud insurance companies, commercial carriers, and trucking companies in a scheme involving intentionally staging automobile accidents in the metro New Orleans area.

Keating admitted to paying Labeaud for 31 staged commercial vehicle crashes and, as an attorney, represented 77 plaintiffs involved in those 31 staged crashes. Labeaud referred staged accidents to Keating and other New Orleans personal injury lawyers for $1,000.00 per passenger for accidents involving tractor-trailers and $500.00 per passenger for accidents not involving tractor-trailers. 

Keating and his clients reportedly received $1,500,000 in settlements from the crashes. Keating kept $358,000 of the settlements as attorney’s fees.

By pleading guilty, Keating admitted to filing lawsuits on behalf of his clients that “fraudulently alleged who was driving the vehicles, misrepresented who was at fault in the staged accidents, and falsely claimed injuries.”

Keating is facing up to five years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release in addition to a fine of $250,000.

“Fraud, regardless of its scope and means of orchestration, is a serious crime. Especially egregious is fraud committed against the hardworking taxpayer by a member of our legal community, said U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Louisiana Duane A. Evans.”  This guilty plea sends a clear message that our office, along with our local, state, and federal partners, will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute all such corruption cases regardless of status.

“Today’s guilty plea sends a clear message to individuals who choose to engage in fraudulent schemes that grossly impact automobile and health insurance industries.  They will be held accountable. Mr. Patrick Keating, a local attorney, took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution and the laws of the State of Louisiana, but instead, violated those laws and his oath in order to unjustly enrich himself by engaging in a scheme which resulted in the filing of fraudulent auto and medical insurance claims,” stated Special Agent in Charge Douglas Williams, Jr. ”I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Eastern District of Louisiana, Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission for their partnership and outstanding work accomplished during this investigation.”