Jury selection began Tuesday morning in the trial of former federal narcotics agent Chad Scott.
Prospective jurors crowded benches on one side of U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo's courtroom as Milazzo quizzed them about their feelings about law enforcement officers, federal drug laws and whether they had been victims of or witnesses to a crime.
Tuesday marks the first day of what is expected to be a two-week trial, the first in recent memory that will pit federal prosecutors against a former law enforcement colleague.
Scott was a decorated agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, and led a task force which made several big busts, many of those in Tangipahoa Parish on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The task force has been accused of shaking down suspects for drugs and cash, though Scott won't face any of those charges in this trial.
Scott faces seven counts in the trial that began Tuesday. Two counts accuse Scott of falsifying records related to a pickup truck he got from an alleged drug trafficker named Frederick Brown, and the five remaining charges of perjury and obstruction of justice relate to Scott's attempt aid a conviction of another drug trafficker, Jorge Perralta. Scott is accused of perjuring himself when testifying against Perralta, and obstructing justice by trying to convince Brown to testify to the same thing.
This is the first of two trials for Scott. A second one, in which he will face four charges, including stealing from suspects, is set for October. In that second trial, he will be tried with his codefendant, former Hammond Police officer Rodney Gemar.
Two other members of that task force have already pleaded guilty to federal charges.