‘Slammer’ named in staged crash indictments shot to death

November 2020

Greg Grisolano

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Less than a week after being named as a ringleader in a massive insurance fraud scheme involving staged crashes with commercial vehicles, a New Orleans man was found shot to death in an apartment in the city.

Cornelius Garrison, 54, of New Orleans, was one of nine individuals named in the latest federal indictment involving a vast conspiracy to stage crashes with commercial trucks and buses and then file personal injury lawsuits. The latest indictment claims Garrison served as a “slammer” and was responsible for at least 50 crashes, for which he received $150,000.

Garrison was found shot to death Sept. 22 in an apartment in the St. Bernard neighborhood of New Orleans, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Garrison’s attorney, federal public defender Claude Kelly, told the newspaper that the timing of the death was “suspicious” and indicated that the death would be investigated jointly by New Orleans police and the FBI.

Nine defendants were charged in a seven-count federal indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and six counts of mail fraud, according to a Sept. 18 indictment. The indictment alleges that the defendants intentionally used vehicles to cause staged motor vehicle crashes with commercial carriers in order to defraud these carriers and their insurance companies.

According to the indictment, Garrison is alleged to have intentionally crashed into a passenger bus in 2015 and into a tractor-trailer owned by Averitt Express in 2017. Court records indicate the insurance providers of the truck and bus companies paid out $707,500 in insurance claims related to the crashes.

With the latest round of indictments, the number of individuals charged in the case has now grown to 28. In addition to federal indictments, LaBeaud and Mario Solomon, another defendant who has since pleaded guilty, and New Orleans attorney Danny Patrick Keating Jr. are being sued by a Louisiana trucking company in a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act civil lawsuit. Keating has not been named or charged in connection with the criminal conspiracy. LL

Greg Grisolano

Greg Grisolano joined Land Line in 2013. He was formerly a reporter for the Joplin Globe. He brings business writing and photography skills to Land Line, and has a passion for finding and telling stories about the people who make up the trucking industry.