A New Orleans-based special agent stripped of his badge by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is facing new allegations that he stole nearly $2,000 in cash last year from the home of a double-murder suspect.
The claim, lodged by a defense attorney in federal court papers, comes after authorities appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI’s investigation of the embattled special agent, Chad Scott, and other members of a DEA task force suspected of pocketing drug money and peddling narcotics, according to law enforcement officials familiar with the inquiry.
The defense attorney, Peter G. Strasser, a former assistant U.S. attorney, accused Scott of swiping the cash during a law enforcement search of his client’s home in Hammond.
Strasser alleged that the agent looted the money with the help of Johnny Domingue, a former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy who pleaded guilty last month to stealing drugs from DEA evidence lockers and money from suspects during searches, among other charges.
“In effect,” Strasser wrote in court filings, Scott and Domingue “helped themselves to this money; they stole it.”
The attorney added that Scott’s “outrageous conduct” is grounds for U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to throw out the heroin charges filed last year against his client, Calvin “Payday” Alexander. Scott “engaged in a pattern of misconduct warranting dismissal of the indictment,” Strasser wrote.
The allegations underscore the potential fallout when a federal agent with Scott’s experience — he has worked for the DEA for 17 years — is accused of wrongdoing.
While Scott hasn’t been charged, defense attorneys already are challenging his credibility in light of his recent suspension. Federal investigators, meanwhile, are combing through the agent’s previous cases for signs of misconduct.
Strasser’s claims are striking in part because they accuse a federal agent of both committing a brazen crime and misleading a grand jury. “In other words,” Strasser wrote, “this drug case is nothing but a fabrication.”
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite Jr. has declined to discuss any aspect of the Scott investigation, and he also would not comment on the appointment of the out-of-state special prosecutor, whose identity has not been made public.
The DEA similarly has refused to comment and will not even confirm whether Scott remains a government employee, though other law enforcement sources say he remains on paid leave.
Scott has a lengthy disciplinary history at the DEA but also has been among the most prolific agents ever to work for the agency’s New Orleans Field Division. The agency has been investigating whether he broke any agency rules through his frequent use of confidential sources, a murky area in law enforcement in which allegiances are constantly shifting.
Of particular interest to investigators is Scott’s association with two DEA task force members who were arrested in recent weeks by the Louisiana State Police: Domingue and Karl E. Newman, both Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s deputies. Domingue already has pleaded guilty; Newman faces drug charges in St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes.
The latest misconduct allegations stem from the DEA’s investigation of Alexander, a suspect in the Oct. 9 killing of two drug dealers in Hammond. They allegedly had shot and wounded Alexander weeks earlier in Ponchatoula. Detectives quickly zeroed in on Alexander and another man, Baron “Gee Gee” Smith, who also faces federal charges in the case, as suspects in the drug dealers’ deaths.
The anti-drug task force raided Alexander’s home days after the killings. It was during that search that Scott and Domingue took $1,800 from a purse in the home belonging to Alexander’s wife, Strasser claims. Strasser contends the agents failed to record the seized cash on an inventory documenting the search.
“This was not drug money,” he wrote. “Rather, it was the proceeds of a $6,536 refund check from Delgado College that (Alexander’s wife) had cashed a few weeks previously.”
Strasser added in court filings that Scott and Domingue — whom he referred to by their initials — could not “support a sustainable homicide case against Alexander” and instead “resorted to other tactics.” He claimed the agents “shook down drug users to admit to them that Alexander had sold one of them heroin.”
Strasser said Scott, without his witnesses, presented a heroin case to the grand jury that “was based entirely upon his version of facts,” adding that the “sole purpose of the indictment was ‘to hold Alexander’ until such time as the DEA could” tie him to the double killing.
Records obtained by The New Orleans Advocate through a public records request show Scott and Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards discussed the double killing frequently in the days immediately after it occurred. In one text message, Edwards told Scott that Alexander’s name had come up because of the earlier shooting, in which Alexander was wounded.
In a later text message, Scott promised to solve the double homicide for Edwards.
Just three days after the search warrant was served, Edwards sent a proposed news release to Scott, detailing Alexander and Smith’s arrest.
“Review and give me your input asap,” Edwards wrote to Scott, who replied, “Good with me.”
In that news release, Edwards said detectives had seized vehicles, weapons and cellphones from the suspects. He also thanked the DEA for its help in solving the case.