Louisiana Woman Sentenced for Staged Auto Collision Scheme

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Lois Russell, 63, of Gibson, LA, was sentenced April 20 after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, arising out of staged automobile accidents with tractor-trailers occurring in New Orleans, U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced.

According to court documents, on March 27, 2017, Russell conspired with Tanya Givens, John Diggs and James "Curtis" Williams to stage an accident with a tractor-trailer at the intersection of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road. Damien Labeaud and Roderick Hickman, who have already pleaded guilty to staging other accidents, also participated in this accident.

Hickman, while driving Russell’s car, intentionally struck the 18-wheeler and then fled the scene with Labeaud. Russell advised NOPD she was the driver. Thereafter, Russell, along with Givens, Williams and Diggs, made claims for personal injuries. In total, the victim trucking and insurance companies paid out $272,500 for these fraudulent claims.

U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk sentenced Russell to five years’ probation and imposed a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the FBI, Louisiana State Police and the Metropolitan Crime Commission with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Edward J. Rivera, Maria Carboni and Brandon Long of the Financial Crimes Unit, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, chief of the Financial Crimes Unit.

Source: U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

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