NEW ORLEANS — A man under federal investigation for alleged involvement in a scheme to stage expensive car crashes was shot to death inside a New Orleans apartment, according to his lawyer.
Cornelius Garrison, 54, was found dead Tuesday, four days after the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Orleans accused him of staging crashes with tractor-trailers in exchange for $150,000, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate quoted Claude Kelly, the federal public defender representing Garrison, as saying.
The indictment Friday alleged Garrison was the driver in more than 50 of the wrecks, mostly along Interstate 10 from Slidell to Baton Rouge, in which other defendants would act as passengers, intentionally causing accidents with trucks that were changing lanes.
The crashes cost drivers hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance payments, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Garrison was one of nine people charged in the scheme.
Kelly said Wednesday that he was suspicious about the timing of Garrison's death, adding that the defendant had grown concerned for his safety as the federal investigation progressed.
He said New Orleans Police and the FBI had launched an investigation into the shooting. No suspect information was immediately announced.
Garrison faced one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and six counts of mail fraud. He had an arraignment set for Oct. 5.