Auto accident scheme backfires on 3 Acadiana men

Three Acadiana men were sentenced in federal court Wednesday for hatching an insurance fraud scheme in which they staged auto accidents.

The defendants — including Oliver Lockett of Breaux Bridge and New Iberia residents Aleric Johnson and Buddy Estelle — managed to keep the auto accident scheme under the radar for about a seven year stretch, starting in 2003 and coming to an end on March 10, 2010.

According to a press release from U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley’s office, the mastermind behind it all was the 44-year-old Lockett, who was responsible for “planning accidents where members of the scheme served either as a driver causing the accident or a witness.” Lockett would cash in, filing multiple insurance claims over the years for property damage and personal injury from the crashes, which were mostly staged in and around Lafayette Parish.

During Wednesday’s proceedings, U.S. District Judge Richard Haik gave Lockett a 60 month prison sentence as well as three years of supervised release. Lockett also got slapped with paying just over $193,000 in restitution. For Lockett’s two accomplices, the 50-year-old Aleric Johnson and 53-year-old Buddy Estelle, Haik ordered they spend a year in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, with each having to pay a little more than $62,000 apiece in restitution.