3 convicted in grand insurance fraud scheme for stage crashes

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Three Louisiana women have been ordered to repay a total of $5.5 million to defrauded businesses in a scheme to stage wrecks.

Keishira Richardson, 27, Chandrika Brown, 31, and Aisha Thompson, 44, are among 36 people convicted so far in what authorities have called “Operation Sideswipe”, according to news releases.

Each was sentenced Wednesday on one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud.

Richardson was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $4.7 million in restitution. This is the total paid to settle claims made by her and others for a staged accident on October 13, 2015.

Richardson’s father, Anthony Robinson, and his wife, Audrey Harris, were each sentenced in June to four years in prison on the same charge over the crash. They both underwent extensive medical treatment, neck and back surgeries, as they “understood that accepting more medical care would increase the value of their case”, according to a press release about their sentence.

U.S. District Judge Ivan Lemelle, who also convicted Keishira Robinson, told her father and Harris that they and their co-defendants would be responsible for paying $5 million, including corporate attorneys’ fees.

U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance sentenced Thompson to 18 months in prison and $677,500 in restitution — the total paid in claims to several people involved in a tourist bus accident on October 15, 2015.

Vance ordered Brown to do 100 hours of community service and pay $121,000 in restitution. Although Brown was not in a RAV4 that hit a tractor-trailer on Sept. 6, 2017, she hired an attorney, filed an injury claim and received medical treatment, according to a news release.

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