Four people have been charged in what prosecutors say was a staged wreck that was settled for $4.7 million.
The indictment brought the total to 32 people accused of faking accidents with tractor-trailers to get insurance money, federal prosecutors in New Orleans said.
One of those people was killed four days after being charged.
It was not clear whether those in the indictment filed Friday in U.S. District Court — Anthony Robinson, 66; Audrey Harris, 53; Jerry Schaffer, 65, and Keishira Robinson, 25 — had attorneys who could speak for them.
Each was charged with two counts of mail fraud and one of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. The maximum total sentence, if they are convicted, would be 45 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
The news release said all but Anthony Robinson were passengers in a car driven by a coconspirator who intentionally collided with a big rig on Oct. 13, 2015, in New Orleans.
Damien Labeaud, who pleaded guilty to a previous indictment, picked up the driver from that site and dropped off Anthony Robinson, who got behind the wheel of his damaged car and claimed to have been driving it when it crashed, according to the news release.
Both Robinsons and Harris are related, but the indictment does not specify how, The Times-Picayune / The New Orleans Advocate reported.
The indictment alleges that Anthony Robinson set up the crash during a meeting with Labeaud and the driver, identified only as Co-Conspirator A, the newspaper reported.
The indictment alleged that one attorney paid Labeaud $1,500 for the wreck and got another lawyer to file a suit for three of the defendants, referring Anthony Robinson to a third attorney.
The three lawyers — identified only as attorneys A, B and C — allegedly lent or gave cash advances totaling $64,570 to the four new defendants before the case was settled. Two of the attorneys referred Anthony Robinson, Harris and Schaffer to doctors for neck or back surgery, according to the indictment.
All three underwent surgery, the news release said.
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