NEW ORLEANS, La. (KLFY) – A Lafayette man was sentenced on Jan. 12 for conspiracy to commit mail fraud by staging automobile accidents with tractor trailers.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ryan Wheaten, 54 of Lafayette, along with participants Damien Labeaud, Mario Solomon, Henry Randle, and Dakota Diggs, staged an automobile collision with a tractor trailer on May 17, 2017. It happened around Hwy 90 and Calliope St. in New Orleans. Labeaud drove the vehicle into a tractor-trailer and then ran away with Solomon. Randle submitted a false report to the New Orleans Police Department saying that he had been driving and it was the fault of the tractor-trailer.
Shortly after the first stage collision, Labeaud and Solomon staged another accident around Louisa St. and Chickasaw St. along with Bernell Gale, Troy Smith, Marvel Francois, and another passenger. Wheaten, Labeaud, Solomon, Gale, Smith, and Francois were charged and pled guilty.
After the staged crashes, Wheaten, Randle, and Diggs made claims for personal injuries. The insurance companies paid out approximately $10,000 for these claims.
U.S. District Court Judge Lance M. Africk sentenced Wheaten to 10 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release. Wheaten was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $11,000, as well as a $100 mandatory special assessment fee imposed by Judge Africk.