Seven more people charged in New Orleans staged accident scheme

They're among 47 defendants collectively accused of causing 77 wrecks., By Missy Wilkinson, Feb. 9, 2022

Seven more people have been charged with staging accidents with 18-wheelers in New Orleans to collect insurance payouts, bringing the total number of defendants in the wide-ranging scheme to 47, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The 10-count indictment, returned Feb. 3 in U.S.  District Court, names Florence Randle, 70, and Larry Picou, 56, of Gibson, Stacie Wheaten, 50, of Atlanta, Joseph Brewton, 56, of Houma, David Brown, 50, and Gilda Henderson, 69, of Morgan City and Latrell Johnson, 30, of New Orleans. It was unsealed after the arrests of Brown and Picou.

They're accused of conspiring to commit mail fraud, part of a ploy by "slammers," "spotters" and corrupt lawyers to wring fraudulent settlements from trucking companies, bus operators and insurance companies. All told, 47 defendants collectively caused 77 wrecks, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors say. Thirty of them have pleaded guilty.

Brewton, Randall and Wheaten are accused of helping to arrange collisions between March and June 2017.

Prosecutors say Brown, Henderson, Johnson and Picou conspired with Brewton to collide a vehicle with a tractor-trailer in May 2017 at Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road in New Orleans, file a false police report, lie in depositions and file fraudulent lawsuits alleging that the tractor-trailer driver was at fault. The tractor-trailer's insurance company paid more than $140,000 to settle the civil litigation.

Read more.