Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of Louisiana

Thursday, February 16, 2023

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that JOHN DIGGS (“J. DIGGS”), age 62, of Thibodaux, Louisiana, and JAMES WILLIAMS (“WILLIAMS”), age 68, of Gibson, Louisiana, were both sentenced February 14, 2023 to 10 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Lance M. Africk after they pleaded guilty to 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 records, J. DIGGS and WILLIAMS conspired with passengers Lois Russell (“Russell”) and Tanya Givens (“Givens”) to stage an accident with a tractor-trailer at the intersection of Chef Menteur Highway and Downman Road.  Damien Labeaud (“Labeaud”) and Roderick Hickman (“Hickman”), who have already pleaded guilty to staging other accidents, also participated in this accident.  Hickman, while driving Russell’s car, intentionally struck the 18-wheeler and then fled the scene with Labeaud. Russell advised NOPD that she was the driver and she, along with Givens, J. DIGGS and WILLIAMS, made claims for personal injuries. In total, the victim trucking and insurance companies paid out $272,500.00 for these fraudulent claims.

In addition to prison, J. DIGGS and WILLIAMS were both sentenced to 3 years of supervised release and a restitution hearing was set for April 5, 2023. Judge Africk also imposed upon each a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.

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 Edward J. Rivera, Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Long, and Unit Chief Brian M. Klebba, all the Financial Crimes Unit.