New Orleans Big Rig Crash Scam Ring Widens as 9 More People Indicted
New Orleans, LA – Nine more people have now been indicted in an expanding big rig crash scam ring in New Orleans.
On Friday, U.S. federal prosecutors announced new charges have been brought against nine additional people accused of attempting to defraud trucking and insurance companies by staging crashes with big rigs.
The nine defendants were charged in a seven-count federal indictment with one count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud and six counts of Mail Fraud.
The indictment names the defendants as Cornelius Garrison, 54; Chandrika Brown, 29; Dewayne Coleman, 21; Doniesha Gibson, 29; Doniesha Lee, 30; Donreion Lee, 22; Aisha Thompson, 42; and Erica Lee Thompson, 46.
So far, this brings the number of people indicted or who have already pleaded guilty in the crash scam ring to 28.
According to prosecutors, five “slammers” (people who intentionally crash passenger vehicles into commercial vehicles) have been identified.
Two alleged slammers, Damian Labeaud and Roderick Hickman, are charged in previous indictments, and, two additional alleged slammers have since died.
The new indictment alleges that Garrison was a slammer.
In fact, Garrison is charged with staging over 50 accidents and was paid over $150,000 by an unnamed Co-Conspirator (“Co-Conspirator A”), court documents state.
Co-Conspirator A instructed Garrison as to the number of passengers to use in the staged accidents and to avoid areas patrolled by the Louisiana State Police and instead stage the accidents under the jurisdiction of the New Orleans Police Department.
The indictment alleges that Co-Conspirator A referred the staged accident cases to an attorney referenced as Attorney B.
Garrison staged accidents mostly on Interstate 10 from Slidell to Baton Rouge and usually at night to avoid eyewitnesses, court records show.
Garrison targeted commercial vehicles, including tractor-trailers, that were changing lanes and would cause the accident by striking the commercial vehicle or tractor-trailer in their blind spot, using the slammer vehicle.
After the accident, Garrison would usually exit the vehicle from the passenger side in order to avoid being seen by the driver of the target vehicle.
Garrison instructed the passengers to call 9-1-1 to report that they had been hit by a vehicle.
A passenger in the vehicle would falsely claim to have been the driver at the time of the staged accident.
One of the staged crashes identified in the indictment occurred on September 6, 2017, on the I-10 near the Almonaster exit.
Garrison was behind the wheel of Erica Thompson’s 2015 RAV4 when he intentionally slammed into a tractor-trailer owned by Averitt Express.
The passengers in RAV4 were Dewayne Coleman, Doniesha Lee, Donreion Lee, and an unknown female passenger who gave the name Aisha Thompson to the police.
Averitt Express settled the subsequent fraudulent case for $30,000.
In Case You Missed It…
Earlier this month a Louisiana-based intermodal carrier filed a federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) civil lawsuit against a New Orleans personal injury lawyer and two others who are already convicted in this ring of staged crash scams.
Click HERE to read about the case.