Star DEA agent finds himself at center of sprawling probe as drug task force comes under scrutiny

Chad Scott

Special Agent Chad Scott has had a rough couple of months.

First, his boss at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was recalled to the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Then, he was suspended amid a state and federal investigation. Two members of his New Orleans-based anti-drug task force were accused of dealing narcotics.

But none of that has stopped Scott from seeking to take his 26-year career in law enforcement to another level.

Documents released Wednesday in response to a public-records request show Scott has applied to become the next police chief of Hammond, a city the agent knows intimately from his years of collaring cocaine traffickers and seizing drug money along Interstate 12.

The job opened up in November when Mayor Pete Panepinto fired longtime chief Roddy Devall following a controversy involving a news release the department distributed about the arrest of one of its officers.

Even as Devall appeals his termination, a lengthy process to be decided by the courts, the city accepted applications through last month from those hoping to replace him. Scott’s was one of about 30 applications the city received from candidates as far away as Arizona and Kansas offering a variety of experience.

Lacy Landrum, the city’s director of administration, said officials are about to begin interviewing finalists, but she declined to divulge the number of finalists or say whether Scott is among them.

It’s unclear whether Scott turned in his résumé before or after he was stripped of his badge by the DEA. “I don’t know that we have time to determine that at this time,” Landrum said when asked when Scott had applied.

The DEA declined to comment Wednesday, and an agency spokeswoman would not say whether Scott remains employed by the government. Scott did not respond to a request for comment.

Scott, who has often referred to himself as the “white devil,” submitted a two-page résumé highlighting more than two decades of narcotics investigations, first as a deputy with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office and then as a special agent with the DEA. He referred to commendations he received for assisting federal authorities in Texas and Louisiana in major cases against “drug and violent criminal organizations.”

Scott added that he “played a major role” in confiscating more than $3 million and making more than 250 arrests and convictions of drug offenders throughout south Louisiana.

He offered a five-point plan for improving the Hammond Police Department rooted heavily in narcotics enforcement, including the creation of a highway interdiction unit that would patrol Interstates 12 and 55.

“The amount of narcotics and funds derived from the illegal sales of narcotics which travel on the interstate system is overwhelming,” Scott wrote. “A successful highway interdiction unit would also generate a tremendous amount of revenue for the City of Hammond through the seizure of these assets.”

In the “skills” section of his résumé, Scott wrote that he “exemplifies integrity” and touted his knowledge of the rules of evidence and “search and seizure.”

Some of Scott’s colleagues have painted a different picture of his tactics through the years, lodging complaints regarding his use of confidential sources.

Federal investigators in recent weeks have been examining Scott’s relationship with Johnny Domingue, a Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy assigned to the DEA task force who pleaded guilty last month to several drug counts.

Several defense attorneys also have accused Scott this year of misconduct, including Peter Strasser, who claimed in federal court filings that Scott and Domingue stole nearly $2,000 from a purse last year while searching the home of a double-murder suspect.

In his guilty plea last month, Domingue admitted to a similar theft from another suspect. Domingue told authorities he had been accompanied by Karl Newman, a fellow Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy who was also on the DEA task force. Newman faces several drug and malfeasance counts in both St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes.

Devall’s attorney, Ron Macaluso, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that Devall is seeking reinstatement as police chief with back pay.

Devall, who served as chief for more than three decades, was accused of violating the Louisiana Police Officers’ Bill of Rights by releasing the photograph and home address of Jennifer Payne, an officer booked two years ago on allegations of prescription drug fraud.

The search for Devall’s replacement has drawn interest from an array of candidates, including two federal agents — an air marshal and an FBI agent — as well as officers from police departments, sheriff’s offices and three university police departments. Two police chiefs applied for the job.

Most of the applicants are from Louisiana, including candidates from the Tangipahoa and Jefferson Parish sheriff’s offices and the New Orleans, Mandeville, Hammond and Shreveport police departments. One investigator with the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office also applied.

Advocate staff writer Sara Pagones contributed to this report. Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon. Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian .