OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A planned trip by an indicted former drug squad leader to Los Angeles to appear on the “Dr. Phil” television talk show has been blocked by a federal judge in Oakland.
Norman Wielsch, 50, of Antioch, the former commander of the Central Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, known as CNET, faces federal charges of stealing and selling drugs from the program, extortion and conducting phony law enforcement stings.
He is free on $100,000 bail and is required to remain in Northern California while awaiting a not-yet-scheduled trial in U.S. District Court in Oakland.
Last week, Wielsch applied for permission to travel to Los Angeles on Sunday and Monday to tape an appearance on “Dr. Phil,” a daytime reality talk show hosted by psychologist Phil McGraw.
On Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Laurel Beeler granted permission, despite the written objections of prosecutors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hartley West argued in a filing that Wielsch might be likely to flee and that the trip was not for the normal family, medical or employment purposes usually allowed for exceptions to travel restrictions.
Prosecutors then appealed to U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong, the trial judge assigned to the case, in a telephone hearing held Friday afternoon.
According to a brief order posted on the court’s electronic docket Monday, Armstrong on Friday overturned the magistrate’s approval of the trip and blocked the trip, which had been scheduled to begin Sunday.
The order said Beeler’s ruling granting permission for the trip was set aside “for the reasons stated on the record at the telephonic hearing held on February 3.”
The order gave no information about the judge’s reasons, and prosecution and defense attorneys declined to comment Monday.
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Jack Gillund said, “I have no comment.”
A spokeswoman for defense attorney Michael Cardoza said, “We’re no longer speaking about that matter until it is resolved at trial.”
Cardoza said last week that Wielsch’s purpose in the planned unpaid television appearance was to reach out to other law enforcement officers who may be under stress and encourage them to seek psychological help.
Wielsch and co-defendant Christopher Butler, a former private investigator from Concord, are scheduled to appear in Armstrong’s court for a status conference March 20.
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