Five Plead Guilty To Conspiring To Stage Automobile Accidents In Order To Defraud Insurance and Trucking Companies
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced LARRY WILLIAMS (“LARRY WILLIAMS”), age 46, of New Orleans, LUCINDA THOMAS (“THOMAS”), age 63; MARY WADE (“WADE”), age 55; JUDY WILLIAMS (“JUDY WILLIAMS”), age 59; and DASHONTAE YOUNG (“YOUNG”), age 25; all of Houma, Louisiana, entered a plea of guilty today to Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, arising out of staged automobile accidents with tractor-trailers occurring in New Orleans.
According to today’s guilty pleas, on June 6, 2017, THOMAS, WADE, JUDY WILLIAMS, and YOUNG drove from Houma, LA, to meet with Damian Labeaud (“Labeaud”), for the purpose of staging an automobile accident in order to obtain money through fraud. After their meeting, THOMAS, WADE, JUDY WILLIAMS, and YOUNG agreed to allow Labeaud to drive THOMAS’ 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche vehicle. The defendants then drove around the vicinity of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road of New Orleans until they located a 2017 Freightliner tractor-trailer operated by an Arkansas trucking company. At approximately 12:30 P.M., Labeaud intentionally collided with the tractor-trailer. Labeaud then exited THOMAS’ vehicle and instructed THOMAS to get behind the wheel of THOMAS’ Avalanche to make it appear that THOMAS was driving the vehicle at the time of the staged accident.
THOMAS, WADE, JUDY WILLIAMS, and YOUNG contacted the NOPD and falsely reported that THOMAS had been the driver of the Avalanche and that the tractor-trailer had struck her vehicle. Labeaud then returned to the scene and also made false statements to the NOPD that he had witnessed the accident and that the driver of the tractor-trailer had been at fault.
According to documents filed in federal court, before and after the staged accident, Labeaud contacted Attorney A and arranged a meeting with THOMAS, WADE, JUDY WILLIAMS, and YOUNG at a fast food restaurant on Chef Menteur Highway. It is further alleged that Attorney A paid Labeaud $7,500.00 on the day of the staged accident. Attorney A then demanded approximately $1,000,000.00 per plaintiff in settlement for THOMAS, WADE, and JUDY WILLIAMS. Attorney A then filed two lawsuits in CDC. Both of the lawsuits filed in CDC by Attorney A were removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Additionally, Attorney A worried about a telephone call made by WADE to Labeaud prior to the staged accident, and contacted THOMAS and WADE to instruct them to “get their stories straight.” During a subsequent meeting, Attorney A gave Labeaud an envelope containing phone records, pleadings, and depositions establishing THOMAS and WADE lied under oath in their September 13, 2018 depositions. Attorney A then met with THOMAS and WADE at an establishment in Thibodaux where Attorney A suggested to THOMAS and WADE a fraudulent scenario to explain a telephone call from WADE to Labeaud prior to the staged accident. THOMAS, WADE, and JUDY WILLIAMS each admitted to providing false testimony in various depositions taken in conjunction with the lawsuits filed by Attorney A. Ultimately, but only after a year of pursuing their fraudulent lawsuits, did THOMAS, WADE, and JUDY WILLIAMS settle their cases for $7,500.00 each.
Also today, LARRY WILLIAMS, admitted he conspired with Labeaud, Mario Solomon (“Solomon”), and Genetta Isreal (“Isreal”) to stage an accident on June 12, 2017, that occurred on Chef Mentuer Highway near the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans. Labeaud and LARRY WILLIAMS planned to stage an automobile accident to obtain money through fraud. During their planning, Labeaud told LARRY WILLIAMS that he had an attorney who would handle everything. LARRY WILLIAMS recruited Isreal and another individual (now deceased) to participate in the fraudulent scheme. LARRY WILLIAMS then borrowed a Chevrolet Trailblazer, and that Labeaud operated the Trailblazer to collide with a 2015 Peterbilt tractor-trailer. After the staged accident, Labeaud fled the scene and LARRY WILLIAMS got behind the wheel to make it appear that he was operating the Trailblazer during the staged accident. Solomon picked up Labeaud after the staged accident. LARRY WILLIAMS told the New Orleans Police Department (“NOPD”) that he was the driver of the Trailblazer and that the tractor-trailer was at fault. After the staged accident, Labeaud introduced LARRY WILLIAMS and Isreal to Attorney A.
LARRY WILLIAMS and Isreal were treated by doctors and healthcare providers at the direction of Attorney A. Attorney A told LARRY WILLIAMS that he would get more money if he had shoulder surgery. On June 12, 2018, Attorney A’s law partner, Attorney B, filed the Larry Williams Lawsuit in Civil District Court (“CDC”) for the Parish of Orleans and on September 14, 2018, Attorney B demanded approximately $60,000.00 in settlement for the aforementioned deceased individual and approximately $56,155.00 in settlement for Isreal. After the suit was filed, LARRY WILLIAMS and Isreal each provided false testimony in depositions taken in conjunction with the lawsuit filed by Attorney B.
THOMAS, WADE, JUDY WILLIAMS, LARRY WILLIAMS, and YOUNG face a maximum sentence of five (5) years. Upon release from prison, THOMAS, WADE, JUDY WILLIAMS, LARRY WILLIAMS, and YOUNG also face a term of supervised release up to (3) three years, 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 under Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for May 21, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon.
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 Brian M. Klebba, Supervisor of the Financial Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Rivera; Assistant U.S. Attorney Shirin Hakimzadeh; Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni, and Trial Attorney Jared Hasten of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Fraud Section, Health Care Fraud Unit.