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Five more plead guilty to conspiring to stage automobile accidents to defraud insurance and trucking companies

NEW ORLEANS – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that Lois Russell (“Russell”), age 61 of Gibson, Louisiana, Tanya Givens (“Givens”), age 43, of Gibson, Louisiana; Henry Randle (“Randle”), age 64, of Gibson, Louisiana; John Diggs (“J. Diggs”), age 60, of Thibodaux, Louisiana; and Dakota Diggs (“D. Diggs”), age 25, of Ft. Smith, Arkansas, entered a plea of guilty today to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, arising out of staged automobile accidents with tractor-trailers occurring in New Orleans.

According to today’s guilty plea, on March 27, 2017, Russell, Givens, and J. Diggs conspired with passenger James “Curtis” Williams (“Williams”) to stage an accident with a tractor- trailer at the intersection of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road. Damien Labeaud (“Labeaud”) and Roderick Hickman (“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 that she was the driver and she, along with Givens and J. Diggs, made claims for personal injuries. In total, the victim trucking and insurance companies paid out $272,500.00 for these fraudulent claims.

Also according to today’s guilty plea, on May 17, 2017, Randle and D. Diggs, along with participants Labeaud, Mario Solomon (“Solomon”), and Ryan Wheaten (“Wheaten”), participated in a staged automobile accident in the vicinity of U.S. Highway 90 East and Calliope Street in New Orleans. 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 a second accident in the vicinity of Louisa Street and Chickasaw Street with Bernell Gale (“Gale”), Troy Smith (“Smith”), Marvel Francois (“Francois”), and another passenger. Labeaud, Solomon, Wheaten, Gale, Smith, and Francois were also charged. Labeaud, Solomon, Gale, Smith, and Francois already pled guilty. Randle, D. 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, J. Diggs, and D. Diggs face a maximum sentence of five (5) years. Upon release from prison, Russell, Givens, Randle, J. Diggs, and D. Diggs also face a term of supervised release up to (3) 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 under Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for September 15, 2021, before U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J. Rivera, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni, Assistant U.S. Attorney Shirin Hakimzadeh, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit