Four more charged in New Orleans staged crash fraud conspiracy

October 21, 2020

Greg Grisolano

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Federal prosecutors in New Orleans have charged four more suspects in connection with a vast insurance fraud conspiracy centered on intentionally crashing passenger vehicles into commercial trucks and buses.

In total, the victim trucking and insurance company paid out approximately $4.7 million for the fraudulent claims associated with this single staged crash, according to prosecutors.

U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced the indictment of Anthony Robinson, 66; Audrey Harris, 53; Jerry Schaffer, 65; and Keishira Robinson, 25; all of New Orleans, with one count each of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and two counts each of mail fraud, according to an Oct. 16 news release. The latest round of indictments brings the total number of defendants charged in this federal probe to 32.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of five years for the conspiracy charge and 20 years for the mail fraud charge, as a fine of up to $250,000 per count.

All four are charged with intentionally staging an automobile crash with a tractor-trailer on Oct. 13, 2015, in order to defraud the trucking and insurance companies.

According to the indictment, Harris, Schaffer, and Keishira Robinson intentionally collided with a tractor-trailer in the area of Alvar Street and France Road in New Orleans. An unnamed co-conspirator was alleged to have been driving the passenger vehicle, which belonged to Anthony Robinson at the time of the crash.

The indictment claims that the driver intentionally struck the tractor-trailer and was picked up from the scene by Damian Labeaud, a man who pleaded guilty in August to being one of the ringleaders of the conspiracy. At the same time, Anthony Robinson exited Labeaud’s vehicle and got behind the wheel of his own vehicle to make it appear he had been driving at the time of the alleged staged crash.

The indictment states that the passengers were referred to an unnamed attorney who paid Labeaud and an unnamed co-conspirator to stage crashes. All four defendants were treated by doctors and healthcare providers at the direction of their attorneys, with Anthony Robinson, Harris and Schaffer undergoing surgeries.
Last month, another man accused of being a ringleader in the staged crash scheme was found shot to death in an apartment in New Orleans.

Cornelius Garrison, 54, of New Orleans, was indicted less than a week before his death. The indictment claims Garrison served as a “slammer” in the staged crash scheme and was responsible for at least 50 crashes, for which he received $150,000. Garrison’s attorney, federal public defender Claude Kelly, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the timing of the death was “suspicious” and indicated that the death would be investigated jointly by New Orleans police and the FBI. LL

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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.