A federal case against two Drug Enforcement Administration task force members was unsealed Tuesday, providing the most detailed glimpse yet into a nearly year-long internal investigation of the DEA’s New Orleans Field Division.
Included in the documents unsealed Tuesday was a 10-count indictment filed earlier this month against former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies Karl Newman and Johnny Domingue. The men were first indicted in May, and a superseding indictment was filed under seal Oct. 7.
Both men were members of a drug task force headed by DEA Special Agent Chad Scott, who is believed to be the main focus of the probe into the task force’s activities.
Scott is suspended from duty. Last week, two other DEA agents were placed on light duty; attorneys for both said their clients have promised to cooperate with investigators.
Federal authorities have intensified their investigation into misconduct within the New Orle…
The indictments of Newman and Domingue were not a surprise: Domingue already has pleaded guilty to state charges, and The New Orleans Advocate reported in July that Newman had been indicted but that the case remained under seal.
Tuesday’s unsealing, however, sheds fresh light on the pace and direction of the government’s investigation, which appears to be trying to ratchet up the pressure on Newman to cooperate.
A veteran narcotics officer assigned to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force in…
In the 10-count indictment, Newman alone faces nine counts, including charges of carrying a firearm during a crime of violence and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. The two firearm counts accompany charges of robbery and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and oxycodone.
In addition, Newman faces counts that he falsified seizure reports concerning cash and a 2013 Ford F-150 pickup. He also faces a count of obstruction of justice for allegedly “tampering with a witness” in another federal drug case, according to the indictment.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for years considered Chad Scott a golden boy among …
Taken together, the charges against Newman carry the potential of a long prison sentence.
Newman’s attorney, Ralph Whalen, did not return a call or text seeking comment.
Domingue, by contrast, faces a single count of falsifying an investigative report.
That allegation seems to track an earlier court document that accused Domingue of lying about which officers participated in a drug investigation he was working on. Domingue admitted lying when he was interviewed in May, according to court documents.
Sherman Mack, Domingue’s attorney, said Domingue has cooperated with federal and state law enforcement agencies as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office and would continue to do so.
The complaint against Domingue also levies some criticism at the DEA’s New Orleans office for allowing Domingue to function as a task force member even though he didn’t meet the qualifications to be one.
“During his affiliation with the DEA, Domingue performed the duties of a DEA Task Force Officer (TFO) but was not formally deputized as a DEA TFO because he did not obtain the requisite security clearance,” it says. Nonetheless, “he had unescorted access to DEA work space; worked drug investigations with DEA special agents and TFOs; and was entrusted to transport seized drug evidence from DEA to local law enforcement offices.”
DEA spokeswoman Debbie Webber refused to comment on the specific allegations in the complaint, saying only that DEA officials are aware of them.
“Because this is an ongoing investigation as well as a criminal matter, we cannot comment further,” Webber wrote in an email.
The investigation into the task force has progressed in extreme secrecy, with few public signs of its existence. One such sign, though, was the recusal of the local U.S. Attorney’s Office from cases in which task force testimony was necessary. In its place, a group of prosecutors from the Western District of Texas have been appointed to handle the cases.
Another special prosecutor, Diidri Robinson, from the Department of Justice's Criminal Fraud Section, is leading the investigation into the task force, which has had investigators camped out in the DEA’s headquarters in Metairie for months. Robinson and another attorney in the Fraud Section, Antonio Pozos, signed the indictment of Newman and Domingue.
A hearing date in their case has been set for Jan. 24, with trial tentatively set for Feb. 6.