NEW ORLEANS — A 54-year-old New Orleans man staged more than 50 accidents between vehicles and 18-wheelers and was paid over $150,000 for doing so, according to a federal indictment in the staged accidents scam first reported by Investigator Mike Perlstein in a series called “Highway Robbery.”
Cornelius Garrison was one of nine people indicted by the United States Attorney general in an announcement made Friday.
The nine make a total of 28 people who have been indicted in the scam that cost drivers thousands of dollars in insurance costs.
The indictment names Garrison, Doneisha Gibson, 29, of New Orleans; Chandrika Brown, 29 of Slidell; Aisha Thompson, 42 of New Orleans, DeWayne Coleman, 21 of Marrero; Donisesha Lee, 30, of Harvey; Donreion Lee, 22, of Harvey; Ishais Price, 49, of New Orleans; and Erica Lee, 46 of Harvey.
In Friday’s indictment and previous indictments, the government says there were five “slammers” or people who intentionally caused accidents with the big trucks in order to get money from the carriers and their insurance companies.
All of the defendants face a count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and six counts of mail fraud and face up to five years on the first count and 20 years on the other six counts.
The indictment says that Garrison personally staged more than 50 accidents. He would be the driver and there would be other defendants in the vehicle. The accidents were mainly staged on I-10 between Slidell and New Orleans and usually at night to avoid witnesses. The indictment said Garrison would target 18-wheelers that were changing lanes and once struck, it says he left the vehicle and had one of the passengers pose as the driver and had them call 911 to report the crash.
It laid out specifics of two accidents, one in October 2015 where Garrison was driving a Dodge Avenger owned by one of the other defendants. The indictment says Garrison drove the vehicle into a Hotard bus. The settlement in that case was $677,500.
An indictment is not a conviction and the defendants must still stand trial.