All Four Plead Guilty in Staged Automobile Accident Resulting in $4.7 Million Settlement
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that ANTHONY ROBINSON (“A. ROBINSON”), age 67; AUDREY HARRIS (“HARRIS”), age 53; JERRY SCHAFFER (“SCHAFFER”), age 66; and KEISHIRA ROBINSON (“K. ROBINSON”), age 26, of New Orleans, Louisiana entered a plea of guilty today to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, arising out of their involvement in a staged automobile accident that occurred on October 13, 2015.
According to today’s guilty plea, A. ROBINSON, HARRIS, SCHAFFER, and K. ROBINSON intentionally collided with a tractor-trailer in the area of Alvar Street and France Road in New Orleans. Roderick Hickman (“Hickman”), who pled guilty to a previous indictment charging him and 10 others with staging automobile accidents, was driving A. ROBINSON’s vehicle at the time of this accident. Hickman intentionally struck a tractor-trailer owned and operated by C.R. England, and then was picked up from the collision site by Damian Labeaud (“Labeaud”), who has also pled guilty to a previous indictment as part of this investigation. After the accident, A. ROBINSON, who had been in Labeaud’s vehicle at the time of the accident, then got behind the wheel of his own vehicle to make it appear that he had been driving at the time of the staged accident. A. ROBINSON falsely reported to the NOPD that he had been driving and that the tractor-trailer had struck his vehicle.
According to documents filed in federal court, all four defendants were referred to an attorney who paid Labeaud for staging this accident, among others. All of the defendants were treated by doctors and healthcare providers at the direction of their attorneys, and A. ROBINSON, HARRIS, and SCHAFFER underwent surgeries. In total, in July 2019, the victim trucking and insurance company paid out approximately $4.7 million for the fraudulent claims associated with this staged accident.
Today’s guilty pleas bring the total number of defendants who have tendered guilty pleas in this federal probe into the staging of accidents with tractor-trailers to fifteen (15). A total of thirty-three (33) defendants, including one personal injury attorney, have been charged thus far.
A. ROBINSON, HARRIS, SCHAFFER, and K. ROBINSON face a maximum sentence of five (5) years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000.00 or twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person of the offense under Title 18, United States Code, Section 3571 and a mandatory special assessment of $100.00. After any term of imprisonment that may be imposed, A. ROBINSON, HARRIS, SCHAFFER, and K. ROBINSON also face a term of supervised release of up to (3) three years.
Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for March 31, 2021 at 2:00 pm, before U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shirin Hakimzadeh, Brian M. Klebba, Supervisor of the Financial Crimes Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Rivera.