The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently announced that two defendants, Doniesha Gibson and Erica Lee, had been sentenced for crimes related to staging automobile collisions with tractor-trailers. The sentences were announced as part of a criminal investigations known as “Operation Sideswipe.” The years-long operation has produced multiple pleas and convictions, including a guilty plea from an involved attorney last year.
Gibson admitted that she was a passenger in a staged accident that occurred on October 15, 2015. A co-defendant intentionally drove the vehicle she occupied into a bus on the interstate. Gibson retained an attorney and filed a suit for damages. Claims related to this accident later settled for $667,500.00
Lee also admitted to filing a suit to claim injuries after the driver of the vehicle she occupied intentionally crashed into a tractor trailer on September 6, 2017. The claims for this suit settled for $30,000.00
United States District Judge Sarah S. Vance sentenced Gibson to 17 months incarceration plus 3 years of supervised release and ordered Gibson to pay restitution in the amount of the settlement. Lee was sentenced to serve 3 years of probation and 100 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay restitution.
While “Operation Sideswipe” did not involve the typical claimants, it reminds of the need for vigilance in assessing accident claims.