US Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Louisiana, July 21, 2022
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that STACIE WHEATEN (“S. WHEATEN”), age 51, of Fairburn, Georgia, pled guilty on July 21, 2022 to count one (1) of her indictment, charging Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. In exchange, the government has agreed to dismiss four counts of Mail Fraud in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341 and 2. 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, as well as a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.00. Today’s guilty plea bring the total number of defendants convicted in Operation Sideswipe to 38.
According to court documents, S. WHEATEN served as an intermediary who recruited and directed passengers to participate in staged automobile collisions with tractor-trailers on May 17, 2017 and June 6, 2017. The passengers in these collisions filed fraudulent lawsuits that falsely claimed that the tractor-trailers were at fault. S. WHEATEN coordinated with co-conspirators including “slammer” Damian Labeaud and attorney Patrick Keating to arrange the staged collisions.
The Honorable Jane Triche Milazzo set sentencing in this matter for October 26, 2022.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria M. Carboni; Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Rivera; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon S. Long.