Another person has been sentenced for their role in Operation Sideswipe, a New Orleans staged-crash scheme involving tractor-trailers.
On March 22, Marvel Francois, 54, of Houma, La., was sentenced for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. She was sentenced to five years of probation and 100 hours of community service and was ordered to pay nearly $21,000 in restitution.
According to a news release from the Eastern District of Louisiana’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, in May 2020, Francois, along with participants Damian Labeaud, Bernell Gale, Troy Smith and another passenger, participated in a staged accident in the vicinity of Louisa Street and Chickasaw Street. Labeaud fled the scene.
Francois falsely reported to the New Orleans Police Department that she had been driving her Dodge Durango and that a tractor-trailer had struck her vehicle. Gale and Smith were previously sentenced. Labeaud’s sentencing was set for June 8.
Dozens of defendants have been convicted in Operation Sideswipe.
Stacie Wheaten and others introduced “slammer” 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.
David Brown, Gilda Henderson and Latrell 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 in Operation Sideswipe, 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 in settlement funds.
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 Operation Sideswipe in June 2021. LL