The divergence in sentence lengths for those who have pleaded guilty in the Louisiana staged accident scheme continues to grow.
In the latest sentencing Thursday, both for individuals who were not masterminds of the plots but were passengers in cars that collided with commercial vehicles, one defendant received 17 months in jail. The second received three years of probation.
With more than 10 people now sentenced for their involvement, sentences have ranged from probation to six months of home incarceration to four years in jail.
In the latest sentencing, Doneisha Gibson, 31, received 17 months in jail for her involvement in an Oct. 15, 2015, staged accident that involved a bus, the only crash in the scheme that didn’t involve a truck. The settlement she received for that case was $677,500, and that is the restitution she was ordered to pay.
Erica Lee Thompson was sentenced for a collision with a truck operated by Averitt Express on Sept. 6, 2017. She received three years probation and was ordered to pay restitution of just over $121,000, even though the settlement she received in the accident was $30,000.
Both Thompson and Gibson pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud. All the charges in the cases prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana have been for mail fraud.
There have been 37 people charged in the case who have pleaded guilty. No defendants have gone to court to contest the charges. Only one lawyer involved in the case, Danny Keating, has been indicted and pleaded guilty to the charges against him. He has not been sentenced.
If there is any pattern in the sentencing, it is the few organizers who were sentenced received significant time in jail: Anthony Robinson and his wife, Audrey Harris, last July each received four years in jail. But they were organizers of accidents, not just the “slammers” who went along for the ride and then faked injuries, according to court documents. The specific accident they were charged with involved a truck operated by C.R. England and resulted in a multimillion dollar payout.
There also appears to be a link between the size of the restitution ordered — which in turn appears to be tied in some cases to the settlements received from insurers and trucking companies — and the length of the jail sentence. For example, Aisha Thompson was hit with an order of restitution of $677,500 — the same amount as Gibson — for her role in the collision involving Averitt. But she also wasn’t in the car that struck the Averitt truck but later lied to investigators that she was — and collected settlement monies, according to court documents. She got 18 months in jail.
The other sentences in the case, based on U.S. attorney records, were:
- Chandrika Brown, three years of probation, 100 hours of community service and approximately $121,000 in restitution. She was in the bus accident that got Gibson 17 months for, but Gibson received a significantly higher insurance payout.
- DeWayne Coleman, 12 months in jail, three years of supervised release and restitution of just over $121,000. He was involved in the Averitt Express crash.
- Genetta Isreal, six months of home incarceration, three years of probation and $28,000 in restitution. Her accident was in 2018, but the statement on her sentencing did not specify who operated the truck that was hit. She was a passenger.
- Keishira Robinson, daughter of the Robinson-Harris husband-and-wife team that got four years. The daughter received five years’ probation for her involvement in the crash with a truck operated by C.R. England.
- Mario Solomon, who received 21 months in jail and was ordered to pay restitution of $71,000, relatively smaller than some of the other defendants who received significant jail time. He was the first person sentenced, in January 2021, and he was a “spotter” who reportedly would identify vehicles to be targeted for a staged accident.
- Jerry Schaffer, who received 30 months in jail. He was involved in the accident organized by the Robinson-Harris team.