‘Ringleader’ of scheme to stage truck crashes pleads guilty
August 11, 2020
•Land Line Staff
A New Orleans man who prosecutors claim was the ringleader in a scheme to stage car crashes with large trucks in an effort to defraud insurance and trucking companies has pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy.
Damian LaBeaud, 48, of New Orleans, entered a plea of guilty on Aug. 6, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Louisiana.
LaBeaud, along with his co-conspirators and others, conspired to commit wire fraud in connection with staged truck crashes, including two that occurred on June 6, 2017, and June 12, 2017.
Six of those co-defendants – Mario Solomon, Larry Williams, Lucinda Thomas, Mary Wade, Judy Williams, and Dashontae Young – have entered guilty pleas and admitted to their knowing participation in the scheme. The news release states that the co-defendants received a total of $43,000 as a result of the fraudulent lawsuits that were filed on their behalf for the June 6 and June 12 accidents.
According to federal prosecutors, LaBeaud admitted to acting as the driver, or “slammer,” in both the June 6 and the June 12 staged crashes.
“As the ‘slammer,’ LaBeaud intentionally caused the collisions with the 18-wheeler tractor-trailers,” the release stated.
After the crashes, LaBeaud immediately exited the vehicles and fled the scene with the help of co-defendant Solomon, who was acting as a “spotter,” or driver of a getaway car.
According to the plea agreement, LaBeaud staged numerous crashes for various attorneys, including at least 40 staged crashes, with 18-wheel tractor-trailers with at least one attorney, who would represent the passengers in conjunction with the personal injury claims. LaBeaud was paid $1,000 for every passenger involved in a staged crash with a tractor-trailer.
LaBeaud faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, as well as up to three years of supervised release and/or a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain to each defendant or twice the gross loss to any person.