Head of New Orleans DEA quietly recalled to Washington amid widening scandal

Johnny Domingue

Johnny Domingue, a former Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office deputy who pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in 2018, was sentenced last week to 21 months in prison with credit for time served.

Domingue in fact had built up lots of extra credit: He spent about 34 months in federal custody while he awaited the trial of former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Chad Scott, who ran a task force to which Domingue had been assigned. 

Domingue, 29, who was a prosecution witness in the Scott case, has now been released from federal custody.

In February 2018, Domingue pleaded guilty to federal charges of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute it and conspiracy by a government officer to steal property. 

His guilty plea was part of a deal he made with federal prosecutors that hinged on his testifying against Scott.

Scott's trial on seven federal counts ended last month when a hung jury forced U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo to declare a mistrial. A retrial is set for August; a second trial, on different counts, is scheduled for October. 

Domingue was the first domino to fall in what became a widespread investigation into the activities of Scott's task force. Another Tangipahoa deputy, Karl Newman, was also arrested and pleaded guilty to federal charges. He has not been sentenced yet.

Both men were fired from the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office when they were arrested.

Both Domingue and Newman admitted to taking money and drugs from suspects and to using some of the drugs.

During his testimony, Domingue also admitted that he and Newman purchased fake methamphetamine from a drug dealer but then took real meth from an evidence room and put it with the fake stuff in order to help make a case against the dealer. He also said they gave drugs to a suspect and urged her to sell the drugs and split the profits with the two deputies.

Domingue, as the newest member of the task force, testified that he did not have firsthand knowledge of Scott's crimes. But, he said, Scott ran the task force with an iron hand, and Domingue looked up to the decorated DEA agent, calling him a "mentor."

During the trial, defense attorneys for Scott repeatedly attacked Domingue's and Newman's credibility, as they did with other witnesses. The prosecution's case, they argued, rested on the testimony of admitted drug traffickers and "dirty cops" who were saying whatever they needed to say in order to get a sentence reduction recommendation from prosecutors.

Domingue's attorney, Sherman Mack, said his client will continue to cooperate with prosecutors but that he was glad to be out of jail.

"He's taking steps to move forward with his life and be productive," Mack said. 

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