Four more sentenced in New Orleans ‘Operation Sideswipe’ scheme

February 17, 2023

Land Line Staff


Four more people have been sentenced in Operation Sideswipe, a New Orleans staged-crash scheme involving tractor-trailers.

The U.S.  Department of Justice announced in a news release that David Brown, 51, of Morgan City, La.; Gilda Henderson, 70, of Morgan City; Latrell Johnson, 30, of  New Orleans; and Stacie Wheaten, 51, of Fairburn, Ga., were sentenced on Feb. 8 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Wheaten was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison and two years of supervised release. Wheaten was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $54,000. Brown, Henderson and Johnson each were sentenced to serve three years of probation and each pay restitution in the amount of more than $200,000.

Wheaten and others introduced “slammer” Damian Labeaud to attorney Patrick Keating in 2017. Keating agreed to pay Labeaud for staged automobile collisions. Wheaten recruited passengers to participate in staged automobile accidents with tractor-trailers in New Orleans, including on May 17, 2017 and on June 5, 2017. The passengers in these collisions filed fraudulent lawsuits that falsely claimed the tractor-trailers were at fault.

Brown, Henderson and Johnson served as passengers for a collision on May 11, 2017. These defendants conspired with Labeaud and others to intentionally collide a passenger vehicle with a tractor-trailer in the area of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road in New Orleans. After the intentional collision, Brown, Henderson and Johnson made a false police report, lied in depositions, and/or filed fraudulent lawsuits claiming that the tractor-trailer was at fault. As a result of this conduct, the insurance company for the tractor-trailer involved in the May 11, 2017 collision paid over $140,000.00 in settlement funds.

Dozens of defendants have been convicted in Operation Sideswipe.

In April 2022, Keishira Robinson, 27, of New Orleans, was sentenced to pay $4.7 million in restitution and serve five years of probation for her role in the scheme.

Labeaud, who was called a “ringleader” by prosecutors, pleaded guilty for his role in the staged-accident fraud scheme in August 2020.

Prosecutors indicted 11 people in a related incident in August 2020.

A man indicted for being a “spotter” in a related staged-crash fraud incident was found shot to death in September 2020, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

New Orleans attorney Danny Patrick Keating Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with the fraud scheme in June 2021. LL