Two More Defendants Sentenced for Conspiring to Stage Automobile Accidents to Defraud Insurance and Trucking Companies
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that CHANDRIKA BROWN (“BROWN”), age 31, and AISHA THOMPSON (“THOMPSON"), age 44, both of New Orleans, Louisiana, were sentenced today 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 documents filed in federal court, BROWN, along with her co-defendants, Doniesha Gibson (Gibson), of New Orleans, Louisiana; and Ishais Price (Price), of New Orleans, and a co-defendant driver conspired to commit mail fraud in connection with a staged accident with a co-defendant driver on October 15, 2015. THOMPSON, along with her co-defendants, Dewayne Coleman, Erica Lee Thompson (“Erica Lee”), Donisha Lee, Passenger A, and another individual, conspired to commit mail fraud in connection with a staged accident with the same co-defendant driver, occurring on September 6, 2017. Thus far, the total number of defendants convicted in “Operation Sideswipe” is thirty-six (36).
BROWN claimed that on October 15, 2015, she was a passenger in a 2014 Dodge Avenger owned and driven by Gibson that was hit by a Hotard bus while traveling on the I-10 near the flyover of the I-510. Also in the vehicle was defendant Price. In truth, a co-defendant asked Gibson to recruit Brown and Price to ride along as passengers and he then sought out a commercial vehicle to intentionally hit. After the staged accident, the co-defendant driver switched seats with Gibson, and they called the N.O.P.D. Gibson, along with the passengers, falsely stated that the Hotard bus illegally changed lanes and caused the accident. Thereafter, BROWN, Gibson, Price, and the co-defendant driver each retained counsel and made demands against Hotard’s owner and insurer for personal injury damages. As a result of the claims, the insurer utilized the U.S. mails to send the settlement drafts to BROWN, Gibson, Price, and the co-defendant driver’s counsel. The total settlement for the Hotard bus accident was approximately $677,500.
Similarly, THOMPSON falsely claimed that on September 6, 2017, on the I-10 near the Almonaster exit, she was a passenger in co-defendant 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, Erica Lee, THOMPSON, and another individual went to an attorney’s office for the purpose of collecting money from the insurance and trucking company. THOMPSON and her co-defendants sought medical treatment from doctors and healthcare providers. THOMPSON was treated despite not being in the RAV4 at the time of the staged accident. THOMPSON retained counsel and made a claim for damages. The total settlement for the Averitt accident was $30,000. On March 26, 2019, Coleman, Donisha Lee, and another individual 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, THOMPSON and her co-defendants lied about the September 6, 2017 accident including, but not limited to, who was driving the RAV4 and the extent of their injuries.
United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance sentenced BROWN to 3 years’ probation, 100 hours community service, restitution in the amount of $121,076.75, and a $100.00 special assessment fee. and THOMPSON to 18 months incarceration, followed by 3 years of supervised release, 100 hours of community service, restitution in the amount of $677,500.00, and a $100.00 special assessment fee.
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.