Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On April 14, 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Louisiana (USAO/EDLA) announced that a defendant who pled guilty to being involved in a staged collision scheme with a tractor-trailer in New Orleans brought the total number of defendants convicted in “Operation Sideswipe” to thirty-six (36) people.

According to a USAO/EDLA press release, the defendant falsely claimed that she was a passenger in a car that was struck by a tractor-trailer on May 11, 2017. In fact, the defendant conspired with others to intentionally collide with a tractor-trailer in the area of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road in New Orleans.

After the intentional collision, the defendant filed a fraudulent lawsuit claiming that the tractor-trailer was at fault and lied in a deposition. This staged collision scheme caused the insurance company for the tractor-trailer to pay over $140,000.00 in settlement funds for the so-called “accident” that occurred on May 11, 2017.

In pleading guilty to her part in the staged collision scheme, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of five (5) years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release of up to three (3) years, and a fine of up to $250,000.00, as well as a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00. Sentencing in this matter is set for July 27, 2022. 

But this accident was only one of several staged collisions uncovered by “Operation Sideswipe.” A search of the phrase “Operation Sideswipe” on the U.S. Department of Justice website revealed a multitude of convictions for similar collisions in the New Orleans area in an effort to defraud insurance and trucking companies.

Before the staged collisions were uncovered by “Operation Sideswipe,” insurance and trucking companies paid out settlements for fraudulent claims to conspirators in the amounts of $30,000, $43,000, $140,000$677,500, and $4.7 million, a settlement that led to a husband and wife being sentenced to four years in prison.

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