Two Plead Guilty to Federal Wire Fraud Connected to Scheme to Defraud The Department of Veteran Affairs
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced today the Indictment of ANTHONY ROBINSON (“A. ROBINSON”), age 66; AUDREY HARRIS (“HARRIS”), age 53; JERRY SCHAFFER (“SCHAFFER”), age 65; and KEISHIRA ROBINSON (“K. ROBINSON”), age 25, of New Orleans, Louisiana. These four defendants were charged in a three-count federal indictment with one (1) count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 and two (2) counts of Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum penalty of five (5) years for Count 1 and twenty (20) years as to Counts 2-3. Upon their release from prison, each defendant can be placed on a term of supervised release for up to five (5) years and fined up to $250,000.00 per count. Today’s Indictment brings the total of defendants charged in this federal probe into the staging of accidents with tractor-trailers to 32.
Today’s Indictment charges these defendants and others with intentionally staging an automobile accident with a tractor-trailer in order to defraud trucking and insurance companies through fraud. According to today’s Indictment, Co-Conspirator A, HARRIS, SCHAFFER, and K. ROBINSON intentionally collided with a tractor-trailer on October 13, 2015, in the area of Alvar Street and France Road in New Orleans. The Indictment alleges that Co-Conspirator A intentionally struck the 18 wheeler and then was picked up from the collision site by Damian Labeaud (“Labeaud”), who pled guilty to a previous indictment charging him and seven others with staging automobile accidents. A. ROBINSON, who had been in Labeaud’s vehicle, 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.
As discussed in the Indictment, the passengers were referred to an attorney who paid Labeaud and Co-Conspirator A to stage accidents. 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, the victim trucking and insurance company paid out approximately $4.7 million for the fraudulent claims associated with this staged accident.
The defendants will be required to appear, at a later date, before a United States Magistrate Judge for an initial appearance and arraignment on this indictment.
U.S. Attorney Strasser reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
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.
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