NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans couple have been sentenced to 48 months in prison for conspiracy to commit mail fraud as part of an insurance scheme, dubbed “Operation Sideswipe,” to defraud trucking companies and their insurers. The sentencing was conducted by U.S. District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle in late June.
According to documents filed in federal court, Anthony Robinson, 67, admitted to paying Damien Labeaud $2,000 to participate in a staged accident involving a tractor-trailer on Oct. 13, 2015.
Robinson arranged for his wife — Audrey Harris, 54 — along with his daughter, Keishira Robinson and his neighbor, Jerry Schaffer, to go for a ride in Robinson’s vehicle. Before the accident, Robinson pulled over, left the vehicle and allowed Roderick Hickman to take the driver’s seat and intentionally collide with a tractor-trailer in the area of Alvar Street and France Road in New Orleans. After causing the collision, Hickman exited the vehicle and was picked up from the accident site by Labeaud. Robinson, who had been in Labeaud’s vehicle during the intentional collision, then got behind the wheel of his own vehicle to make it appear he had been driving at the time of the staged accident.
Labeaud and Hickman previously entered guilty pleas for these actions.
After the accident, Anthony Robinson, Harris, Keishira Robinson and Schaffer were referred to an attorney who paid Labeaud and Hickman to stage accidents. The attorney then referred Robinson and Harris to medical providers for treatment, including chiropractic treatment, injections, and neck and back surgeries. Attorneys filed fraudulent civil lawsuits on behalf of both of the Robinsons, Harris and Schaffer; all four allegedly provided false testimony in depositions taken in conjunction with the lawsuit.
As a result of the lawsuit, the victim trucking and insurance company paid out about $4.7 million for the fraudulent claims. Specifically, the victim trucking company and its excess insurer paid out approximately $1,500,000 for the Robinson claim. Anthony Robinson received about $534,983 of that total amount, in addition to about $35,700 in loans or advances on his settlement from the law firms representing him. The trucking company’s insurer paid out about $2,100,000 for Harris’ claim. Harris received about $675,000 of that total amount, in addition to about $14,600 in loans or advances on her settlement from the law firm representing her.
Following their 48-month sentences, Anthony Robinson and Harris will be subject to three years of supervised release. Additionally, both must pay a $100 mandatory special assessment fee. Regarding restitution, Lemelle ordered that all conspirators be held jointly and severally liable for restitution in the total amount of $5,073,358.25. The restitution amount includes the total settlement paid by the victim trucking company and its excess insurer, as well as attorneys’ fees incurred by the trucking company while defending against the fraudulent civil lawsuit stemming from the staged accident.
Lemelle previously sentenced Schaffer to 30 months in prison for his role in this accident, and Keishira Robinson previously pled guilty.
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.