NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that HERBERT ALLEN (“ALLEN”), age 37, and DION RIDLEY (“RIDLEY”), age 23, agreed to plead guilty to count one (1) of their indictment, charging Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. In pleading guilty, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of five (5) years’ imprisonment; a term of supervised release of up to three (3) years; and a fine up to $250,000.00, or the greater of twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person under Title 18, United States Code, Section 3571, as well as a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00. Today’s guilty plea brings the total number of defendants convicted in Operation Sideswipe to 41.
As part of their plea, the defendants admitted to conspiring to commit mail fraud in connection with a staged automobile collision. In the scheme, ALLEN falsely claimed that he was the driver of a car that was struck by a tractor-trailer on June 28, 2017. RIDLEY, a passenger in the car, falsely claimed that ALLEN was driving the car when they were struck by a tractor-trailer. In fact, the government’s evidence showed that the defendants conspired with Damien Labeaud (“Labeaud”), Roderick Hickman (“Hickman”), and others to intentionally collide ALLEN’s 2007 Chevrolet Impala with a tractor-trailer in the area of Tchoupitoulas Street and Calliope Street in New Orleans. Both defendants lied in civil depositions, falsely claiming that ALLEN was driving the car that collided with the tractor-trailer, when in fact Hickman was driving the car and intentionally hit the tractor-trailer. Both defendants hoped that, through their false statements, they would secure lucrative monetary settlements from the owner, driver, and insurer of the tractor-trailer.
Sentencing is set for both defendants on February 15, 2023, before United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would 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 Brandon S. Long; Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria M. Carboni; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Rivera.