NEW ORLEANS—A prolific narcotics agent was sentenced on Thursday to more than 13 years behind bars for stealing money from suspects, falsifying government records, and committing perjury during a federal trial.
U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo said the longtime U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent, Chad A. Scott, caused “far reaching” damage “to the administration of justice.”
The sentencing capped a five-year case that shook the DEA and resulted in convictions of three other members of a New Orleans-based federal drug task force.
Prosecutors portrayed Scott as more dangerous than the most hardened heroin dealers he locked up, saying the Louisiana lawman “broke every rule in the book” to enforce his “own approximation of justice.” They had asked Milazzo to sentence Scott to nearly two decades in prison.
“He undercut law enforcement and he disgraced the entire judicial process,” federal prosecutor Timothy Duree told the first jury that convicted Scott. “He was sworn to uphold the law but instead, he broke it for his own selfish purposes.”
Scott, 53, was found guilty at successive trials of a long list of corruption counts. The charges stemmed from an expansive federal investigation into misconduct claims that had surrounded Scott for much of his 17-year career, even as he racked up headline-grabbing drug busts between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Scott told Milazzo he was “ashamed of being here,” adding he had long since been “convicted in the press and public opinion.” But he sought to underline his contributions to law enforcement and the DEA’s mission, in which he said he had truly believed. He was twice the target of murder-for-hire plots, he told the judge—“an example of the length people will go to to remove me from drug trafficking investigations.”
Scott’s remarks—his first since his 2017 arrest—came during an unusual sentencing hearing this week that revealed details of crimes Scott was alleged to have committed but for which he was not charged. The alleged victims included a Louisiana man who accused Scott of planting an ounce of marijuana in his truck in 2005 and a Houston man who said Scott twice lashed his mouth with the medallion on a necklace he was wearing during a 1999 arrest that brought no charges, then confiscated the chain and took nearly a year to return it.
“This goes against everything that the Drug Enforcement Administration stands for,” Anne Milgram, the newly sworn-in DEA administrator, said in a statement. “Scott betrayed the very people he was entrusted to protect and today he is being held accountable for his crimes.”
Scott was convicted in 2019 of orchestrating false testimony against a Houston-based heroin and cocaine trafficker—perjury that tainted the dealer’s conviction and allowed him to walk free. The same federal jury found Scott falsified paperwork for a Ford F-150 pickup—a vehicle he directed another drug trafficker to buy so the DEA could seize it and give it to Scott.
Earlier this year, a separate federal jury convicted Scott and Rodney Gemar, a former member of his task force, in what prosecutors described as a long-running scheme to steal money and property from suspects they arrested.
Two other former members of the task force, Johnny Domingue and Karl E. Newman, were accused of stealing cash and drugs and testified against Scott. Both were Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies—detailed to the DEA—and served federal sentences after agreeing to cooperate with the government. Domingue since has been charged with new federal drug trafficking charges in Texas.
Scott is among a growing list of DEA agents who have been accused of abusing their authority in recent years. Another veteran agent, Jose Irizzary, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring with a Colombian cartel money launderer, filing false reports, and ordering DEA staff to wire money slated for undercover stings to international accounts he controlled.
At least a dozen DEA agents across the country have been criminally charged since 2015 on counts ranging from wire fraud and bribery, to selling firearms to drug traffickers, according to court records. That includes a longtime special agent in Chicago who pleaded guilty to infiltrating the DEA on behalf of drug traffickers, and another accused of accepting $250,000 in bribes to protect the Mafia.