Ex-Deputy Charged In Widening Contra Costa Officer Scandal
MARTINEZ (BCN) – In the widening scandal involving law enforcement officers in Contra Costa County, prosecutors filed new charges Friday adding a former sheriff’s deputy to the criminal complaint against a former local drug task force commander and a private investigator.
The 34-count criminal complaint adds charges against former sheriff’s deputy Stephen Tanabe, a 47-year-old Alamo resident, for conspiracy to possess, transport and sell a controlled substance; accepting a bribe; conspiracy to pervert and obstruct justice for conducting so-called “dirty DUI” arrests; conspiracy to falsely and maliciously procure another person to be arrested for a crime, also for the alleged “dirty DUI” scheme; and possession of an assault weapon.
Norman Wielsch, commander of the Central Contra Costa County Narcotic Enforcement Team, and Christopher Butler, a Concord-based private investigator and former Antioch police officer, both 49, were charged in the original 28-count criminal complaint in February.
According to attorneys on the case, Wielsch allegedly stole drugs from law enforcement evidence lockers and Butler arranged to sell them or have them sold.
According to the new complaint, Butler allegedly received steroids from Wielsch and gave samples and a price list to Tanabe. Tanabe then allegedly told an unnamed person that they could buy steroids from Butler.
Tanabe also allegedly participated in the “dirty DUI” scheme with Butler in which Butler allegedly hired attractive women to lure men to bars and get them drunk. He would then allegedly call Tanabe and have the men arrested for drunken driving as they were leaving, according to the complaint.
The men in these cases were often the husbands of Butler’s clients who were involved in legal battles with their spouses.
Wielsch and Butler have pleaded not guilty to the charges. A date for Tanabe’s arraignment had not yet been set Friday afternoon.
“My client had early acceptance of responsibility for the things that he did do,” Wielsch’s attorney Michael Cardoza said Friday.
He said Wielsch was not involved in any of the “dirty DUI” arrests.
Butler and Tanabe’s attorneys were not immediately available for comment.
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office planned to hold a news conference on the case at 2 p.m. Friday in Martinez.
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