In a sharply worded new court filing, attorneys for indicted former federal drug agent Chad Scott are accusing federal prosecutors of improperly retaliating against a defense witness. They are asking the judge to dismiss the charges against Scott as a result.

The broadside, filed Tuesday in federal court, is the latest in a series of blistering motions filed by Scott's attorneys, Matt Coman and Stephen Garcia. It comes less than three weeks after jurors were unable to reach a verdict on any of the seven counts Scott faced, forcing U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to declare a mistrial.

In another motion, Coman and Garcia urge Milazzo to postpone the March 18 scheduled date for Scott's retrial, arguing that they have crowded trial schedules and that it will be difficult to subpoena witnesses and experts for the second trial. 

Coman and Garcia reserved their strongest language for their motion to dismiss. 

Prosecutors ran afoul of the law when they "intimidated and retaliated against James 'Skip' Sewell after that witness testified and the first trial ended in mistrial," Scott's attorneys wrote. Their actions "must not be sanctioned by allowing this prosecution to continue."

Sewell, one of three witnesses who testified for Scott, was a longtime, highly decorated DEA agent who had been Scott's supervisor before Scott was suspended in 2016 as part of the investigation into the task force he led.

Sewell was also caught up in the probe. Although there were no allegations against him, he was put on light duty for more than a year while the investigation proceeded. He then retired — in good standing — from the DEA and went to work for 22nd Judicial District Attorney Warren Montgomery as an investigator.

During his time with Montgomery's office, he was placed on a violent crime task force and was sworn in as a DEA task force officer in late 2018. But soon after his Jan. 30 trial testimony, he was notified by DEA brass that he was no longer on the task force. The government's actions were " 'intentional and in bad faith,' warranting the dismissal of the indictment with prejudice," the defense filing says.

This is at least the second time that Scott's legal team has accused prosecutors of misconduct. In June, they accused prosecutors of "framing" Scott and hiding evidence that supported his innocence. They asked Milazzo to toss out the indictment, but she refused.

In a separate filing, Coman and Garcia say that both of them have trial commitments in different parts of the country during late March and April, and that forcing them to reconvene to retry Scott at that time would place an undue burden on the defense. They also say they are trying to secure the testimony of an additional expert, which would be difficult given the quick turnaround of the trials. They suggest a trial date in September.

Scott faces 11 total charges, but last year, Milazzo split the counts into two trials. The first, on seven counts of obstruction, perjury and falsification of government forms, ended Feb. 4 in a mistrial. The trial on the remaining four counts is currently set for Oct. 1, though that date has been thrown into question by the status of the retrial on the first seven counts. 

Scott and some members of the Metairie-based task force he led have been the targets of an investigation that began more than three years ago. Two task force members, former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office deputies Johnny Domingue and Karl Newman, have already pleaded guilty to federal crimes. Both testified for the prosecution in Scott's trial.  


Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.

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