NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans Attorney Daniel Patrick Keating was indicted Thursday in connection with a staged accident investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
51-year-old Keating was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
If convicted, the defendant faces up to five years in prison and a fine that could top $250,000.
Keating is the 33rd defendant charged in the federal probe into staging accidents with tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles in the New Orleans area.
Keating is accused of conspiring with Damian Lebeaud and others to defraud insurance companies, commercial carriers, and trucking companies in a scheme involving staging accidents. The Department of Justice says Keating knowingly paid for 31 tractor-trailer accidents to be staged and represented 77 plaintiffs in those cases.
The feds say Keating also discussed with his clients they would likely get more money in a settlement if they received medical treatment. Other unnamed personal injuries attorneys are also referenced in the federal indictment as being a part of a scheme that the FBI says contributes to drivers having to pay more for their car insurance.
The feds referred to Garrison as a slammer because they say he would intentionally strike 18 wheelers and other commercial vehicles in their blind spot -- usually on I-10 -- and at night so there were fewer potential witnesses.
The indictment charges that Keating and his clients received around $1.5 million in settlements with Keating reportedly keeping over $350,000 of that in attorney’s fees.
“Because of insurance frauds of these types we expect that the average American family incurs between $400 and $700 additional per year on annual premiums because of a host of fraud schemes one of which is certainly staged auto accidents,” said Bryan Vorndran, FBI Special Agent in Charge New Orleans.
So far, 11 of 33 indicted defendants have pleaded guilty in federal court.
Keating and two other three other attorneys are subjects of the federal racketeering civil lawsuit.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit is Southeastern Motor Freight Inc. of Jefferson Parish. Attorney Douglas Williams represents them and says it’s cases like this that can financially hurt trucking companies.
“Southeastern Motor Freights is a small family-owned company in the New Orleans area. This has a direct impact to get insurance and compete in the market,” Williams said.
Keating’s attorney had no comment on the case.
The FBI is also now involved in the murder investigation of a New Orleans man who was at the center of this federal investigation. Someone killed Cornelius Garrison in September—just days after the feds indicted him in this sprawling probe.
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