By Ken Daley | WVUE | September 13, 2021

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Federal prosecutors announced the indictment of seven more New Orleans defendants Monday (Sept. 13), accusing the group of conspiring to stage accidents in the city involving 18-wheelers in order to defraud trucking companies and their insurance providers.

Charged in the scheme involving accidents allegedly staged in 2016 and 2017 were Ashley McGowan, 35; Lertrice Johnson, 45; Davienque Johnson, 27; Herbert Allen, 36; Troylynn Brown, 34; Dion Ridley, 22; and Jarvis Brown, 29. Acting U.S. Attorney Duane Evans’ Eastern District of Louisiana office now has charged 40 people as part of a federal probe into the staging of accidents with tractor-trailers.

The latest seven were charged in a four-count indictment alleging conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud. Each faces up to five years in federal prison if convicted on the conspiracy count, and up to 20 years if found guilty of mail fraud. Each defendant also could be fined up to $250,000 per count if convicted.

Federal prosecutors allege the defendants conspired amongst themselves and with others to stage accidents in which they intentionally collided with tractor-trailers. The first incident occurred at the intersection of Chickasaw and Louisa streets in the Desire neighborhood on June 8, 2016. The second took place near the Central City intersection of Calliope and Tchoupitoulas streets on June 28, 2017, according to the indictment.

In each instance, prosecutors allege, some of the newly charged defendants conspired with others charged in previous indictments who already have pleaded guilty to purposely cause collisions with 18-wheelers and then falsify information about the driver and passengers involved in the collisions. Authorities said these schemes involved using a driver known as a “slammer” who would intentionally collide with the tractor-trailers, followed by a “spotter” getaway car that would quickly unload additional passengers to claim injury while helping the responsible driver to escape the scene.

The defendants are accusing of lying in subsequent depositions scheduled to investigate the collisions, and working with attorneys to secure financial settlements from the commercial carriers and their insurance companies.

The FBI, Louisiana State Police and Metropolitan Crime Commission have assisted in the investigation. the case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brandon Long, Brian Klebba, Maria Carboni, Edward Rivera and Shirin Hakimzadeh.

The newest indictment was filed Aug. 26, but not announced until more than two weeks later, following a closure for Hurricane Ida.