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Staged crashes lead to multiple arrests in Jefferson Davis Parish

JENNINGS, LA – Troopers assigned to the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations Insurance Fraud and Auto Theft Unit arrested seven individuals today who were involved in staged crashes in Jefferson Davis Parish.

Earlier this year, investigators with the Louisiana State Police Bureau of Investigations in cooperation with the Louisiana Department of Insurance and the National Insurance Crime Bureau began an investigation into staged crashes in Jefferson Davis Parish. Through investigation, it was determined that a group of family and friends staged three separate crashes over a five month period as well as a “jump in” crash several months later.

A “jump in” crash occurs when an individual or individuals claim to have been in a vehicle at the time of a crash but were not. None of these crashes involved anyone from outside of the criminal group.

Troopers obtained arrest warrants and arrested the following individuals today and booked them into the Jefferson Davis Parish Jail:

• Devondrick Sams, age 28 of Jennings: Automobile insurance fraud (2 counts), felony theft (2 counts), filing or maintaining false public records, child desertion (2 counts)

• Tamale Sonnier, age 27 of Jennings: Automobile insurance fraud (3 counts), felony theft (3 counts), child desertion (2 counts)

• Saundra Pete, age 61 of Jennings: Automobile insurance fraud

• Jaylin Sams, age 26 of Jennings, Automobile insurance fraud, felony theft , filing or maintaining false public records

• Dawn Sonnier, age 26 of Jennings: Automobile insurance fraud (3 counts), felony theft, filing or maintaining false public records (2 counts), child desertion (3 counts)

• Rhinehart Thibodeaux, age 47 of Jennings: Automobile insurance fraud, felony theft, filing or maintaining false public records

• Victoria Shaw, age 39 of Mamou: Automobile insurance fraud, filing or maintaining false public records

The individuals charged with child desertion placed children in harm’s way by including them in the staged crashes. Under Louisiana law, child desertion includes intentionally exposing a child less than 10 years of age to a hazard or danger.

Automobile insurance fraud is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine plus restitution.

Troopers are still looking for 28-year-old Marlo Diggs of Abbeville. She is believed to be staying in the Lake Arthur or Jennings area. Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call Louisiana State Police Troop D at 337-491-2511.

The Insurance Fraud Unit has field offices located throughout the state in which Troopers investigate various types of insurance fraud cases such as staged crashes, “jump-in” crashes, fraudulent injury claims, worker’s compensation fraud, forged medical records, and inflated property claims. False claims result in higher insurance premiums for everyone.

The public plays an integral role in identifying suspects accused of these crimes and is urged to report criminal or suspicious activity. For more information and/or to contact the Louisiana State Police Insurance Fraud and Auto Theft Unit visit www.lsp.org/ifu.html. Suspected cases of insurance fraud may also be reported to the Louisiana Deportment of Insurance at 1-800-259-5300.

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