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FBI Takes Over Contra Costa County ‘Rogue’ Cops Probe

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Norman Wielsch, Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team CNET commander

Norman Wielsch, former Commander of the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team (CBS)

MARTINEZ (CBS 5) — Federal authorities on Friday officially took over the probe into former narcotics task force Commander Norman Wielsch and other so-called “rogue” police officers in Contra Costa County who face accusations including drunk driving setups, the sale of confiscated drugs and the operation of a brothel.

CBS 5 first reported Thursday that federal agents would assume control over the investigation into the growing police corruption scandal.

“After a full and careful consultation and deliberation it is my belief that the people of this county are best served if we enlist the United States Attorney’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigations,” Mark Peterson, the Contra Costa County District Attorney said at an afternoon news conference in Martinez.

“Beginning today, the U.S. Attorney is assuming the lead prosecutorial authority for the cases involving Norman Wielsch, Christopher Butler, Steven Tanabe and Louis Lombardi,” he said.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Peterson cited budget constraints as well as the fact that some of the crimes crossed multiple jurisdictions as well as state lines as factors.

“We do not have sufficient resources to address other areas of illegal activity that need further investigation and exploration,” Peterson said.

“However, the criminal investigation must not only be independent in fact but also must be completely independent in its appearance … it has become more and more challenging to fulfill that independent posture,” he explained.

Peterson said the state criminal charges already pending against the accused former officers would remain in effect but the U.S. Attorney’s office would now decide about how to proceed with additional charges.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement e-mailed to CBS 5: “My office and the FBI are conducting an investigation of this matter. I want to commend District Attorney Mark Peterson and his office, and San Ramon Police Chief Scott Holder and his department, for their fine work and dedication in responding to these allegations.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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