January 14th, 2022
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that
RYAN WHEATEN (“WHEATEN”), age 54, of Lafayette, Louisiana, was sentenced on
January 12, 2022 for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States
Code, Section 371, arising out of staged automobile accidents with tractor-trailers occurring
in New Orleans.
According to court documents, on May 17, 2017, WHEATEN,along with participants
Damien Labeaud (“Labeaud”), Mario Solomon (“Solomon”), Henry Randle (“Randle”), and
Dakota Diggs (“D. Diggs”), staged an automobile collision with a tractor-trailer in the vicinity
of U.S. Highway 90 East and Calliope Street in New Orleans. Labeaud purposely drove the
vehicle into a tractor-trailer and then fled the scene with Solomon. Randle falsely reported to
the New Orleans Police Department that he had been driving and that the tractor-trailer was
at fault. Shortly thereafter, Labeaud and Solomon went on to stage a second accident in the
vicinity of Louisa Street and Chickasaw Street with Bernell Gale (“Gale”), Troy Smith
(“Smith”), Marvel Francois (“Francois”), and another passenger. In addition to WHEATEN,
Labeaud, Solomon, Gale, Smith, and Francois were also charged and pled guilty.
After the staged collision, WHEATEN,Randle, and D. Diggsmade claims for personal
injuries. The victim insurance companies paid out approximately $10,000.00 for these
U.S. District Court Judge Lance M. Africk sentenced WHEATEN to serve 10 months in
prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. WHEATEN was also ordered to pay
restitution in the amount of $11,000. Judge Africk also imposed a $100 mandatory special
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation and the Metropolitan Crime Commission with this matter. The prosecution of
this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni, Assistant U.S. Attorney
Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward J.
Rivera, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon S. Long.