Feds Expected To Take Over CoCo Police Corruption Probe

MARTINEZ (CBS 5) – CBS 5 has learned that the federal government will be taking over the investigation into police corruption in Contra Costa County that includes accusations of drunk driving setups, the sale of confiscated drugs and the operation of a brothel.

The U.S. Attorney’s office based in San Francisco has no comment, but CBS 5 learned the FBI will be in charge of the investigation starting Friday. The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office has scheduled a 2 o’clock news conference Friday afternoon to discuss the next phase of the case.

Former narcotics task force commander Norman Wielsch and several others, who are now out on state bail, could soon be re-arrested as a result of the development.

Wielsch, the former commander of Contra Costa’s drug task force, was arrested in February along with his private investigator friend, Chris Butler.

Wielsch is accused of stealing narcotics confiscated by his unit, known as CNET, and providing them to Butler for resale.

Two other cops have also been arrested in the scandal.

Among the other accusations tied to Butler are claims of DUI setups where women lure men away from a bar after they have been drinking, only to be pulled over by officers.

Butler claims he and Wielsch were even running a brothel in a Pleasant Hill office park.

Wielsch’s attorney, Michael Cardoza, said he has not yet heard what new charges his client might face when it goes federal.

“What I would think is, they’re looking at the public corruption aspect of this and that’s what they’re investigating. If they take it over…they will take everything over and Contra Costa County will then step out,” said Cardoza. “To a lot of people, it will give a better appearance of justice. Even though – as I say – the DA’s office out here has been fair and square in their dealings.”

Cardoza hopes the fact that his client has confessed will help him spend less time behind bars.

“They’ll bring on their charges, we will face those charges head up,” he said. “As you well know, my client – on the day of his arrest – had a cathartic conversation with law enforcement and the DA’s office and admitted his responsibility…in federal law, early acceptance of responsibility is one of the things that mitigates in sentencing.”

More details are expected following Friday’s new conference.

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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