Skip to main content
Press Release

Four Individuals Sentenced for Conspiring to Stage Automobile Accidents

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that DAVID BROWN (“BROWN”), age 51, of Morgan City, Louisiana; GILDA HENDERSON (“HENDERSON”), age 70, of Morgan City, Louisiana; LATRELL JOHNSON (“JOHNSON”), age 30, of  New Orleans, Louisiana; and STACIE WHEATEN (“WHEATEN”), age 51 of Fairburn, Georgia, were sentenced on February 8, 2023 for Conspiracy to Commit Mail 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 court documents, WHEATEN and others introduced “slammer” Damian Labeaud to attorney Patrick Keating in 2017.  At this meeting, 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. 

BROWN, HENDERSON, and JOHNSON served as passengers for a collision on May 11, 2017.  These defendants conspired with Labeaud and others to intentionally collide with a tractor-trailer in the area of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road in New Orleans.  After the intentional collision, 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 $140,000.00 in settlement funds.

U.S. District Court Judge Jane Triche Milazzo sentenced WHEATEN to serve 18 months in prison, to be followed by two (2) years of supervised release.  WHEATEN was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $54,000.00 and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.  BROWN, HENDERSON, and JOHNSON were each sentenced to serve three (3) years of probation. Additionally, Judge Milazzo ordered BROWN, HENDERSON, and JOHNSON each to pay restitution in the amount of $200,963.59 and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Metropolitan Crime Commission with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Rivera, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon S. Long.


*   *   *

Updated February 10, 2023

Financial Fraud