…which could give some insight into why Edwards had such a bad day on Thursday.
For some background on the FBI raid on the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Department, see here, here and here. But the crucial piece to the story is that there is a currently-suspended DEA agent named Chad Scott, who headed up the agency’s New Orleans task force, who was formerly with the Tangipahoa Sheriff’s Department. Scott has been accused of running a scheme in which members of the task force stole drugs from evidence lockers and sold them on the streets, among other things – he’s accused of stealing a large amount of cash from a murder scene, for example.
And two now-former TPSO deputies, Kent Newman and Johnny Domingue, were arrested for dealing narcotics in February. It’s said that at least one of them is cooperating with the FBI investigation into the scheme. It’s also said that Scott had recruited a number of other TPSO deputies who might also become targets of the investigation.
Which makes it exceptionally inconvenient that the Baton Rouge Advocate got hold of a number of e-mail and text messages establishing a cozy relationship between Edwards and Scott…
While Daniel Edwards has played down his connections to the DEA task force, text messages and emails obtained by The Advocate show Edwards for years has had a close relationship with Scott, an agent of 17 years who remains at the center of the misconduct investigation.
The friendship began even before Edwards was elected sheriff in 2003, at a time when Edwards was an assistant district attorney who prosecuted many drug cases Scott investigated. But the pair became even closer in recent years, swapping emails and text messages and sharing meals.
“It was well known that Scott led what many considered to be local investigations, all with the blessing and approval of the sheriff,” said a law enforcement official who has known both men for more than a decade. “Nobody’s going to dispute that.”
Edwards and Scott became even closer following Edwards’ election as sheriff, exchanging frequent emails and text messages and sharing meals. On several occasions, Edwards sent drafts of press releases to Scott and asked him to review them and offer feedback.
“Chad, do you have a problem with the way I reference DEA?” Edwards wrote in one example.
“Looks great to me,” Scott replied.
In one text message, Edwards informed Scott he was in Baton Rouge for a meeting of the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Association. “Stop by and I’ll treat you to lunch,” he texted.
“In Lafayette now,” Scott replied.
“Perfect. Text me when you are parking,” Edwards wrote back.
In another message, Scott asked Edwards if he had a source for New Orleans Pelicans tickets because his son wanted to see the Houston Rockets play. Later, Edwards followed up to see if Scott was enjoying the game.
“Good for a basketball game,” Scott replied.
In February, when then-Special Agent in Charge Keith Brown was abruptly transferred out of the DEA’s New Orleans Field Division, Scott reached out to Edwards. “Sac was just removed,” the agent wrote.
“Damn. Did you see that coming” Edwards replied.
“No its crazy,” Scott texted back.
For his part, Edwards said Friday that he’s “cooperating” with the investigation, which looks as though it’s true – but then again it’s a little hard not to cooperate when they come to your place in SWAT gear and tell the media they’re treating the entire premises as a crime scene. That’s more than a little unusual, and what it says about the sheriff’s exposure in the investigation isn’t great.
Here was Edwards yesterday – he seems remarkably composed for someone who a day earlier had something like a blitzkrieg descend on his place of business…
In the meantime, the Advocate has a fun little exchange between Louisiana GOP executive director Jason Dore’ and the governor’s press spokesman Richard Carbo, in which Dore’ suggested John Bel Edwards answer some questions about how much he knows of the investigation and whether he’s made any calls to help his brother out, and Carbo responded that it was “incredibly irresponsible” for Dore’ to be playing politics amid the investigation.
Which begs the question what asteroid Carbo has spent the majority of his life on, if he thinks that the governor’s brother having his office tossed by the FBI and his computer deposited in an evidence bag amid an investigation of crooked law enforcement is not an issue with political implications. That’s 100 percent fair game – unquestionably so – and he’s kidding himself if he thinks this mess won’t follow his boss around long after all the charges have been adjudicated.