NEW ORLEANS — Five people pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud as part of a big rig crash scam, according to U.S. Attorney Duane Evans, announced May 25. Lois Russell, 61 of Gibson, Louisiana; Tanya Givens, 43, of Gibson, Louisiana; Henry Randle, 64, of Gibson, Louisiana; John Diggs, 60, of Thibodaux, Louisiana; and Dakota Diggs, 25, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, entered a plea of guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, arising out of staged automobile accidents with tractor-trailers occurring in New Orleans, Louisiana.
According to the guilty plea on March 27, 2017, Russell, Givens and John Diggs conspired with passenger 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 Givens’ car, intentionally struck the 18-wheeler and then fled the scene with Labeaud. Russell then advised the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) that Givens was driving at the time of the staged accident, and she, along with Givens and John Diggs, made claims for personal injuries. In total, the victim trucking and insurance companies paid out $272,500 for these fraudulent claims.
Also according to the guilty plea, Randle and Dakota Diggs, along with Labeaud, Mario Solomon and Ryan Wheaten, participated in a staged automobile accident near U.S. Highway 90 East and Calliope Street in New Orleans in 2017. Labeaud and Solomon fled the scene. Randle falsely reported to the NOPD that he had been driving and that the tractor-trailer had struck his vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Labeaud and Solomon went on to stage another accident in near Louisa Street and Chickasaw Street with Bernell Gale, Troy Smith, Marvel Francois and another passenger. Labeaud, Solomon, Wheaten, Gale, Smith and Francois were also charged. Labeaud, Solomon, Gale Smith, and Francois have already pleaded guilty. Randle, Dakota Diggs and Wheaten made claims for personal injuries. The victim trucking and insurance companies paid out approximately $10,000 for these fraudulent claims.
Russell, Givens, Randle, John Diggs and Dakota Diggs face a maximum sentence of five years. Upon release from prison, they also face a term of supervised release up to three years, and/or a fine of $250,000 or the greater of twice the gross gain to each defendant or twice the gross loss to any person. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15, 2021, before U.S. district judge Lance Africk.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.