Two Charged in Airline Baggage Scam Involving Over $550,000 in False Claims
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS, LA – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that on September 23, 2021, two Bills of Information charging PERNELL ANTHONY JONES, JR., age 31, of Kenner, Louisiana, and DONMONICK MARTIN, age 29, of Chalmette, Louisiana, for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud airlines through false claims for lost baggage.
JONES was charged in a two-count Bill of Information with Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1349 and Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. If convicted, JONES faces a maximum term of twenty (20) years imprisonment as to each count and/or a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss caused by the offense. In addition, JONES faces a term of supervised release of up to three (3) years as to each count and a $200 mandatory special assessment fee. MARTIN was charged with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. If convicted, MARTIN faces a maximum term of five years of imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss caused by the offense. MARTIN also faces up to three years of supervised release and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.
According to court documents, beginning in or around 2015, JONES and his co-conspirators submitted over 180 claims to commercial airlines, including American, Alaska, Southwest, United, and JetBlue, requesting over $550,000 in reimbursement for luggage that JONES falsely alleged had been lost. In total, the airlines paid over $300,000 in fraudulent claims. The Bill of Information alleges that JONES would take flights with commercial airlines under false or fictitious identities using fraudulent identification cards. When he arrived at the destination airport, JONES would falsely claim that his baggage had been lost and would request reimbursement to compensate him for his lost luggage. Through this scheme, JONES and others caused airlines to mail reimbursement checks through the United States Postal Service.
MARTIN was charged for his role in this scam, which included going into Louis Armstrong International Airport in January 2020 under a fictitious identity and falsely telling American Airlines that his bag had been lost on a flight. MARTIN’s Bill of Information also alleges that, on four occasions, MARTIN agreed to accept reimbursement funds from airlines for false claims for lost baggage.
U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the Bill of Information is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendant must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Evans would like to acknowledge the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the City of Dallas Police Department. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni.
Updated September 24, 2021