Attorney pleads guilty to role in ‘Operation Sideswipe’ scheme

June 22, 2021

Land Line Staff

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A New Orleans personal injury attorney has pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme involving fraudulent auto and medical insurance claims stemming from staged crashes with commercial trucks.

Danny Patrick Keating Jr., 52, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud at a hearing in federal court in Louisiana on June 17. He admitted to knowingly paying a co-conspirator for 31 illegally staged crashes involving tractor-trailers, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Of those 31 crashes, 17 were settled out of court, and Keating and his clients received approximately $1.5 million, of which Keating kept $358,000. The lawsuits filed on behalf of the 77 plaintiffs fraudulently alleged who was driving the vehicles, misrepresented who was at fault in the staged crashes, and falsely claimed injuries.

Keating is one of 33 defendants so far who have been charged by federal investigators in a vast fraud conspiracy dubbed “Operation Sideswipe.”

The charges stem from a federal probe into the intentional staging of motor vehicle crashes with tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles in the metropolitan New Orleans area.

According to court records, 23 of the 33 indicted defendants have pleaded guilty in federal court.

Per the plea agreement, Keating admitted to conspiring with Damian Labeaud and others to defraud insurance companies, commercial carriers, and trucking companies in a scheme involving intentionally staging car crashes with commercial vehicles.

Court records indicate Labeaud was a “ringleader” of the conspiracy, and was often behind the wheel of the passenger vehicles as they purposefully crashed into commercial trucks. He pleaded guilty last year.

Labeaud would refer passengers in the vehicles to Keating and other New Orleans personal injury attorneys for $1,000 per passenger for crashes involving tractor-trailers and $500 per passenger for crashes not involving tractor-trailers.

The plea agreement states Keating advanced Labeaud thousands of dollars for the wrecks and instructed Labeaud that he owed Keating a certain number of crashes based on the amount of money advanced.

Keating faces a maximum term of five years of imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person of the offense. In addition, Keating faces a term of supervised release up to three years after his release from prison. A sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 20, 2022. LL

 

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