Defendant Pleads Guilty in Staged Automobile Collision Scheme
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that ASHLEY McGOWAN (“McGOWAN”), age 35, agreed to plead guilty on March 31, 2022 to Count One (1) in her indictment, charging Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. In exchange, the government has agreed to dismiss Count Two (2), charging Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 2. In pleading guilty to Count 1, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of five (5) years’ imprisonment; a term of supervised release of up to three (3) years; a fine up to $250,000.00, or the greater of twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person under Title 18, United States Code, Section 3571; and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00. Today’s guilty plea brings the total number of defendants convicted in “Operation Sideswipe” to thirty-three (33).
As part of her plea, McGOWAN admitted to being in a conspiracy to commit mail fraud in connection with a staged automobile collision. In the scheme, McGOWAN falsely claimed that she was a passenger in a car that was struck by a tractor-trailer on June 8, 2016. In fact, the government’s evidence showed that the defendants conspired with Damien Labeaud (“Labeaud”), Keishira Robinson (“K. Robinson”), and others to intentionally collide K. Robinson’s Mazda with a tractor-trailer in the area of Chickasaw Street and Louisa Street in New Orleans. McGOWAN later lied in her civil deposition, falsely claiming that K. Robinson was driving the car that collided with the tractor-trailer, when in fact Labeaud was driving the car and intentionally hit the tractor-trailer. McGOWAN also falsely claimed that she was in the car at the time of the collision, even though she had been riding in a separate “spotter” or getaway car and entered the “slammer” car only after the collision occurred. McGOWAN hoped that, through her false statements, she would secure lucrative monetary settlements from the owner, driver, and insurer of the tractor-trailer.
Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for June 14, 2022, before United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would 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 Brandon S. Long; Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria M. Carboni; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Rivera.
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