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New Orleans personal injury attorney pleads guilty in connection with staged accident probe

NEW ORLEANS – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that Danny Patrick Keating, Jr., age 52, of New Orleans, Louisiana, entered a plea of guilty today to Conspiracy to Commit Mail and 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 before Chief United States District Court Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown.

Keating was the thirty-third (33rd) defendant charged in the Government’s federal probe into the intentional staging of motor vehicle accidents with tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles in the metropolitan New Orleans area.  Thus far, twenty-three (23) of the thirty-three (33) indicted defendants have tendered guilty pleas in federal court.

According to today’s guilty plea, Keating was a personal injury attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Louisiana.  Keating admitted to conspiring with Damian Labeaud and others to defraud insurance companies, commercial carriers, and trucking companies in a scheme involving intentionally staging automobile accidents.

Labeaud referred staged accidents to Keating and other New Orleans personal injury attorneys for $1,000 per passenger for accidents involving tractor-trailers and $500 per passenger for accidents not involving tractor-trailers.  Keating advanced Labeaud thousands of dollars for these accidents and instructed Labeaud that he owed Keating a certain number of accidents based on the amount of money advanced.  For instance, on July 17, 2017, Keating gave Labeaud $15,000 so Labeaud could purchase a $15,000 Chase Bank cashier’s check to buy Mario Solomon’s truck.1  Additionally, on September 25, 2017, Keating wrote a $17,000 check to himself for “advertising” and used the proceeds to purchase a $17,000 cashier’s check payable to Labeaud.  The Indictment alleges Keating paid Labeaud another $12,500.00 in checks during the month of June 2017.

Keating admitted he knowingly paid Labeaud for thirty-one (31) illegally staged tractor-trailer accidents.  Keating represented seventy-seven (77) plaintiffs involved in the thirty-one (31) accidents staged by Labeaud.  Keating settled seventeen (17) of the thirty-one (31) staged accidents.  The Indictment charged that Keating and his clients received approximately $1,500,000 in settlement resulting from his representation of his clients involved in the staged accidents and that Keating kept approximately $358,000 in attorney’s fees.

Keating admitted he filed lawsuits in state and federal court in Louisiana on behalf of his clients who were involved in the staged accidents.  The lawsuits filed on behalf of the seventy-seven (77) plaintiffs fraudulently alleged who was driving the vehicles, misrepresented who was at fault in the staged accidents, and falsely claimed injuries.  Keating used the U.S Postal Service to mail settlement demands on behalf of his clients who were involved in staged accidents from the Eastern District of Louisiana to various out-of-state locations.  In many cases, clients of Keating provided false testimony in depositions taken in conjunction with lawsuits filed by Keating.

Keating faces a maximum term of five (5) years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain to the defendant or twice the gross loss to any person of the offense under Title 18, United States Code, Section 3571.  In addition, Keating faces a term of supervised release up to three (3) years after his release from prison.  Sentencing in this matter is scheduled for January 20, 2021, before Chief United States District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown.

“Fraud, regardless of its scope and means of orchestration, is a serious crime. Especially egregious is fraud committed against the hardworking taxpayer by a member of our legal community, said U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Louisiana Duane A. Evans.”  This guilty plea sends a clear message that our office, along with our local, state, and federal partners, will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute all such corruption cases regardless of status.

“Today’s guilty plea sends a clear message to individuals who choose to engage in fraudulent schemes that grossly impact automobile and health insurance industries.  They will be held accountable. Mr. Patrick Keating, a local attorney, took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution and the laws of the State of Louisiana, but instead, violated those laws and his oath in order to unjustly enrich himself by engaging in a scheme which resulted in the filing of fraudulent auto and medical insurance claims,” stated Special Agent in Charge Douglas Williams, Jr. ”I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Eastern District of Louisiana, Louisiana State Police, and the Metropolitan Crime Commission for their partnership and outstanding work accomplished during this investigation.”

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 Edward Rivera; Assistant U.S. Attorney Shirin Hakimzadeh; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Carboni.

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1 Solomon was a spotter who worked with Labeaud in staging automobile accidents. Solomon pled guilty on May 28, 2020, and was sentenced on January 22, 2021.