Feds indict personal injury lawyer in staged crash scheme
November 6, 2020
•Land Line Staff
Federal prosecutors say an attorney from New Orleans represented 77 plaintiffs in at least 31 personal injury lawsuits and collected approximately $358,000 as part of a sweeping conspiracy involving staged crashes between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks and buses.
U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser indicted Danny Patrick Keating, 51, with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud on Thursday, Nov. 5.
The indictment charges that Keating and his clients received approximately $1.5 million in settlements resulting from his representation of those clients involved in staged crashes.
The man prosecutors say was a ringleader and one of the main orchestrators of the crashes, Damian Labeaud, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in August.
Keating is one of 33 individuals charged so far by federal officials. Eleven of those have entered guilty pleas. Prior to being indicted, Keating was also named in a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act civil lawsuit filed on behalf of Southeastern Motor Freight Inc., a Jefferson, La.-based carrier.
The RICO suit seeks to recoup damages and attorney fees paid out in settling personal injury litigation filed as a result of 2017 crash, which the trucking company claims was staged as part of an elaborate fraud scheme.
If convicted, Keating faces a maximum term of five years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, and a term of three years of supervised probation.
According to the indictment, Keating is charged with conspiring with Labeaud and others to defraud insurance companies, commercial carriers, and trucking companies in a scheme involving intentionally staging automobile accidents.
Labeaud referred staged crashes to Keating and other unnamed personal injury attorneys. He received $1,000 per passenger for crashes involving tractor-trailers and $500 per passenger for crashes not involving tractor-trailers.
Federal prosecutors allege Keating advanced Labeaud thousands of dollars for these crashes and instructed Labeaud that he owed a certain number of crashes based on the amount of money advanced. The indictment alleges that the pair sometimes discussed the staging of crashes before they happened and communicated via coded language regarding staging crashes.
The indictment states that Keating filed lawsuits in state and federal court in Louisiana on behalf of 77 plaintiffs. Prosecutors say those lawsuits “fraudulently alleged who was driving the vehicles, misrepresented who was at fault in the staged accidents, and falsely claimed injuries.”
The indictment alleges Keating used the U.S Postal Service to mail settlement demands on behalf of his clients who were involved in staged crashes in the New Orleans area to various out-of-state locations. It also alleges that many of Keating’s clients provided false testimony in depositions taken in conjunction with the personal injury lawsuits. LL