NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana – Roderick Hickman was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in federal prison last month, marking one of the longest sentences in the massive case known as “Operation Sideswipe.” The operation involved a probe into more than 100 accidents, where individuals intentionally collided with 18-wheelers in the same narrow stretch of eastern New Orleans. Many of the resulting lawsuits were filed by the same network of accident attorneys. Ultimately, millions of dollars in fraudulent insurance claims were paid out, with some defendants confessing to getting unnecessary surgeries to increase their payouts.
Hickman admitted to recruiting passengers for these collisions, sometimes getting behind the wheel as a “slammer,” and steering cases to specific attorneys. However, only one attorney, Daniel Patrick Keating, has been charged in connection with the case, despite evidence pointing to other attorneys involved in the fraudulent claims. This has prompted questions about the disparity in accountability for those orchestrating the crimes and those facing charges.
The investigation, known as one of the largest fraud cases of its kind in the country, resulted in indictments for 52 people, 44 guilty pleas, and 24 defendants sentenced to prison. However, the sentencing has drawn attention due to the impracticality of the restitution amount ordered for the defendants, leading to concerns about the effectiveness of the justice system in addressing such cases. This has raised questions about the performance of the U.S. Attorney’s office in handling the case, especially in light of the complex legal maneuvers undertaken by defense attorneys.
The case has seen setbacks, including the murder of a key witness, which has been speculated to have a chilling effect on others who had been cooperating. Despite these challenges, prosecutors still have a window to indict more people as the investigation continues. The case’s unfolding has raised concerns about accountability, as well as the complexities and challenges involved in pursuing justice in such high-stakes and multi-faceted cases. At the heart of the matter is the impact on car insurance customers in Louisiana, who are estimated to pay over $600 more per year due to the fraudulent claims.