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'Operation Sideswipe'; Here's Everything You Need To Know

Individuals came together to stage accidents on highways with trucks to defraud insurance companies and trucking companies. 
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Mike Bird
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Mike Bird

The federal investigation that went on for five years and exposed more than 100 intentional accidents with 18-wheel trucks, "Operation Sideswipe," aimed to curb the fraud. However, even though 52 individuals were indicted, only 44 of them pleaded guilty and only one attorney has been charged so far. Most of these defendants have been cooperating with the feds.  However, there have been implications for the attorneys who have filed a lawsuit. For example, a key slammer-turned-federal witness was fatally shot in 2020 after his indictment went public, as per WWLTV.

Pexels | UHGO
Pexels | UHGO

A surge in fraud in the trucking industry has been noticed in the past few years, out of which one “Operation Sideswipe" is arguably the most prevalent. This scam defrauds not only the insurance industry but also hampers the trucking industry to a large extent. 

Operation Swideswipe gets in motion as individuals take part in staged crash accidents that involve a tractor or a trailer and a car. It involves a spotter who spots a target and a slammer who is the truck driver who causes the accident. After the accident takes place, the passenger files a false police report. They go on to lie and claim insurance. 

As mentioned more than 50 individuals have been convicted so far who allegedly were staging accidents on highways with trucks to defraud insurance companies and trucking companies. 

Slammers like Labeaud were introduced to attorney Patrick Keating in 2017. Keating reportedly agreed to pay Labeaud for staged automobile collisions. However he later denied in a tape recording, saying, "I can guarantee you on my life that I ain't ever was going to do no fraud," Labeaud says in the recording. “Put me under. No sir, it ain't no fraud. Nothing that I ever done"

In another such case, two individuals Gilda Henderson and Latrell Johnson were convicted for serving as passengers for a collision on May 11, 2017. The federal investigation has been going on for five years, however, it is now coming to a wrap. 

Image Source: Krisanapong/ Getty Images
Image Source: Krisanapong/ Getty Images

There has been a failure to collect enough evidence to indict the attorney. Only one has been indicted so far. "What happens to the people that were orchestrating these crimes that the low-level poor, mostly minority people have already pled guilty to perpetrating?" asked attorney Megan Kiefer, as per WWLTV.

"Fifty-two defendants. And yet they still can't get even one level above them, let alone the higher people in the conspiracy?” asked criminal defense attorney Craig Mordock. “It's very head-scratching," he added.

Image Source: istockphoto/Jerome Maurice
Image Source: istockphoto/Jerome Maurice

Some people thought that "Operation Sideswipe” would lead to lower insurance costs. However, the prevalence of the fraud is adding at least $600 a year in car insurance costs for every Louisiana driver. 

Many insurance experts think that it's not fair that the drivers have to go through this. The good news is that even with the investigation wrapping up, many experts and attorneys are working on ways to find the solution to these frauds and get the defendants convicted. “I think we've got to continue the efforts to combat fraud. And maybe it sounds like we need to double down,” Louisiana Insurance Commissioner-elect Tim Temple told WWLTV.

Some examples make going after attorneys who file bad accident lawsuits very difficult. In 2017, Personal Injury attorney Edwin Shorty Jr. filed an accident lawsuit for three people who said that they were hit by a truck on I-10. The attorney learned about the staging of the accident way after this. However, many feel that, when a client comes and lies to you, it's your job to understand that there are loopholes in the story that they are trying to sell.