Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Louisiana
Monday, January 23, 2023
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that LUCINDA THOMAS (“THOMAS”), age 67; MARY WADE (“WADE”), age 58; and JUDY WILLIAMS (“WILLIAMS”), age 62, all of Houma, Louisiana, were sentenced on January 19, 2023 for Conspiracy to Commit Wire 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 documents filed in federal court, on June 6, 2017, THOMAS, WADE, WILLIAMS, and co-defendant Dashontae Young (“Young”) drove from Houma, LA, to meet with Damian Labeaud (“Labeaud”), for the purpose of staging an automobile accident in order to obtain money through fraud. After their meeting, THOMAS, WADE, WILLIAMS, and Young agreed to allow Labeaud to drive THOMAS’ 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche vehicle. The defendants then drove around the vicinity of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road of New Orleans until they located a 2017 Freightliner tractor-trailer operated by an Arkansas trucking company. At approximately 12:30 P.M., Labeaud intentionally collided with the tractor-trailer. Labeaud then exited THOMAS’ vehicle and instructed THOMAS to get behind the wheel of THOMAS’ Avalanche to make it appear that THOMAS was driving the vehicle at the time of the staged accident.
THOMAS, WADE, WILLIAMS, and Young contacted the NOPD and falsely reported that THOMAS had been the driver of the Avalanche and that the tractor-trailer had struck her vehicle. Labeaud then returned to the scene and also made false statements to the NOPD that he had witnessed the accident and that the driver of the tractor-trailer had been at fault.
Before and after the staged accident, Labeaud contacted attorney Patrick Keating (“Keating”) and arranged a meeting with THOMAS, WADE, WILLIAMS, and Young at a fast food restaurant on Chef Menteur Highway. Keating then filed two lawsuits in state court that were removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
THOMAS, WADE, and WILLIAMS each admitted to providing false testimony in various depositions taken in conjunction with the lawsuits filed by Keating. Ultimately, but only after a year of pursuing their fraudulent lawsuits, did THOMAS, WADE, and WILLIAMS settle their cases for $7,500.00 each.
U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon sentenced THOMAS, WADE, and WILIAMS to 5 years probation, $43,000.00 in restitution, and $100.00 special assessment fee. Young is scheduled to be sentenced on February 2, 2023 and Damian Labeaud is scheduled for sentencing on May 25, 2023.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission with this matter. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba, Chief of the Financial Crimes Unit; Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni; Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Rivera; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Long.