In September 2020, a former Louisiana sheriff’s deputy named Johnny Domingue headed to Edinburg in search of easy money.
Someone he met in jail had arranged for Domingue to pick up 8 kilograms of cocaine and deliver the drug shipment to Houston.
When he arrived in Edinburg, however, agents with Homeland Security Investigations arrested Domingue. He’d been set up.
“He’s sorry. He asked for forgiveness. He accepts responsibility for what he did,” said attorney Mark Diaz of Galveston, who represented Domingue.
During a hearing on Monday morning, Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal sentenced Domingue to nearly six years in federal prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, which prosecuted Domingue, declined to comment.
Johnny Jacob Domingue II was born in Berwyn, a suburb of Chicago, and raised in Ocala, a central Florida city known as the “Horse Capital of the World.” After college, Domingue moved to Louisiana and accepted a job with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Nobody in Tangipahoa Parish knew Domingue, which made him perfect for the narcotics division. Just months after graduating from college, Domingue started working undercover.
He met Chad Scott, a special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and joined a regional task force called Group 10.
Scott had a reputation for making big cases, but he also broke the law himself. Other members of Group 10 that worked the “North Shore” with Scott also went rogue.
They falsified documents, arrested people on bogus charges, stole money from suspects and pocketed drugs.
“I think his life would have taken a completely different direction had he never met Chad Scott,” Diaz said.
The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General arrested Scott, Domingue and two other members of Group 10 on corruption charges.
Domingue pleaded guilty. After testifying against Scott and spending nearly three years in jail, Domingue was released in 2019.
“I moved to Houston, TX two months after my release to start my life over and although it has been challenging I know I only have myself to blame for my past mistakes,” Domingue wrote to U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon in June 2020, when he asked the court to end his supervised release early. “There is not a day that I don’t think about how my decisions affected myself, friends and family. It’s because of that daily reminder that I will not allow myself to make those mistakes again.”
Domingue, though, had kept in touch with someone he met in jail.
In 2020, they came up with a plan to transport 8 kilograms of cocaine from Edinburg to Houston. Domingue lined up buyers in Houston and Louisiana.
Unbeknownst to Domingue, the person he met in jail was a federal informant.
Domingue drove to Edinburg on Sept. 9, 2020, and picked up a car at the Academy Sports + Outdoors store on Trenton Road. As soon as Domingue attempted to leave the parking lot, agents with Homeland Security Investigations arrested him.
“He didn’t lose his job, he lost his career,” Diaz said. “I guess he had a hard time coping when he got out. And he decided to make some easy money.”