Harvey Woman Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Stage Automobile Accident in Order to Defraud Insurance and Trucking Companies
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that DONISESHA LEE (“DONISHA LEE”), age 30, of Harvey, Louisiana, entered a plea of guilty today to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, before United States District Court Judge Sarah S. Vance arising out of a staged automobile accident with a tractor-trailer occurring in New Orleans.
According to today’s guilty plea, DONISHA LEE, along with her co-defendants, Dewayne Coleman (“Coleman”), Erica Lee Thompson (“Erica Lee”), Aisha Thompson (“Thompson”), Passenger A, and Donreion Lee, conspired to commit mail fraud in connection with a staged accident with their former co-defendant, occurring on September 6, 2017. Today’s guilty plea brings the total number of defendants convicted in “Operation Sideswipe” to thirty (30).
DONISHA LEE admitted that on September 6, 2017, on the I-10 near the Almonaster exit, she was a passenger in Erica Lee’s 2015 RAV4 being driven by their former co-defendant, when he intentionally crashed into a tractor-trailer owned by Averitt Express. After the staged accident, the driver exited the RAV4 and told Erica Lee to get behind the wheel of the RAV4 to make it appear that Erica Lee was driving the vehicle at the time of the staged accident. The defendants contacted the NOPD and falsely claimed that Erica Lee was the driver at the time of the collision. Passenger A falsely claimed to the NOPD that she was Thompson.
Approximately one or two days after the staged accident, Coleman, DONISHA LEE, Donreion Lee, Erica Lee, and Thompson went to an attorney’s office for the purpose of collecting money from the insurance and trucking company. Coleman, DONISHA LEE, Donreion Lee, Erica Lee, and Thompson sought medical treatment from doctors and healthcare providers. Thompson was treated despite not being in the RAV4 at the time of the staged accident. DONISHA LEE retained counsel and made a claim for damages. The total settlement for the Averitt accident was approximately $30,000.
On March 26, 2019, DONISHA LEE, Coleman, and Donreion Lee each provided false testimony in depositions taken in conjunction with the Thompson Lawsuit. On April 9, 2019, Thompson provided false testimony in a deposition taken in conjunction with the Thompson Lawsuit. In these depositions, DONISHA LEE, Coleman, Donreion Lee, and Thompson lied about the September 6, 2017 accident including, but not limited to, who was driving the RAV4 and the extent of their injuries.
DONISHA LEE face a maximum sentence of five (5) years of incarceration. Upon release from prison, DONISHA LEE also faces 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. Also, DONISHA LEE must pay a $100 mandatory special assessment fee at sentencing. United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance scheduled the sentencing hearing for April 27, 2022.
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, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Rivera; Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Long.