Additional defendant in car accident scheme pleads guilty

Published 7:04 am Friday, April 8, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that LERTRICE JOHNSON (“JOHNSON”), age 45, has pled guilty on April 6, 2022 to Count one (1) of her indictment, which charged her with  Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.  In pleading guilty to Count 1, the defendant faces a maximum penalty of five (5) years’ imprisonment; a term of supervised release of up to three (3) years; and a fine up to $250,000.00, or the greater of twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person under Title 18, United States Code, Section 3571, as well as a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00.  Today’s guilty plea brings the total number of defendants convicted in Operation Sideswipe to thirty-four (34).

As part of her plea, JOHNSON admitted her involvement in a scheme to falsely claim she was a passenger in a car that was struck by a tractor-trailer on June 8, 2016. In fact, the government’s evidence showed that the defendant conspired with Damien Labeaud (“Labeaud”), Keishira Robinson (“K. Robinson”), and others to intentionally collide K. Robinson’s Mazda with a tractor-trailer in the area of Chickasaw Street and Louisa Street in New Orleans.  JOHNSON later lied in her civil deposition, falsely claiming that K. Robinson was driving the Mazda and that the tractor-trailer was at fault. In fact, Labeaud was driving the car and intentionally hit the tractor-trailer.  JOHNSON also claimed that Ashley McGowan (“McGOWAN”) was in the car at the time of the collision when in fact McGowan was not.  Moreover, JOHNSON falsely alleged that she had gone to the hospital after the collision. JOHNSON hoped that, through her false statements, she would secure lucrative monetary settlements from the owner, driver, and insurer of the tractor-trailer.

Sentencing in this matter is set for July 13, 2022, before United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office would 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 Brandon S. Long; Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria M. Carboni; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Rivera.