SAN RAMON (CBS SF) — A San Ramon divorce attorney was arrested at her Oakland home Tuesday on federal charges of evading taxes and conspiring with a former private investigator to bug the cars of her clients’ husbands, U.S. prosecutors announced.
Mary Nolan, 60, is accused in a federal indictment of plotting with former investigator Christopher Butler of Concord to intercept communications illegally by having Butler place secret listening devices in the cars of her divorcing clients’ husbands in 2007.
Butler pleaded guilty in federal court in Oakland in May to seven felony charges in a Contra Costa County law enforcement scandal, including counts of drug possession, extortion and illegal wiretapping.
He is due to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong on Sept. 25.
The separate indictment against Nolan, who maintains her law office in San Ramon, was issued by a federal grand jury on Sept. 6 and unsealed after her arrest Tuesday morning.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Nolan made an initial appearance in federal court in Oakland and was granted release on a $300,000 bond. She was ordered to return to the court of U.S. Magistrate Donna Ryu on Sept. 25 for arraignment.
The indictment accuses Nolan of four counts of failing to report a total of $1,842,159 in income for the years 2005 through 2008, resulting in unpaid federal taxes of $593,916 for those years.
It also charges her with one count of conspiring with Butler to intercept communications and one count of procuring the illegal interception of communications in a specific victim’s car.
The conspiracy count alleges that the scheme took place from at least Aug. 9 to Sept. 9, 2007, and that Nolan referred divorce clients to Butler for the installation of concealed listening devices in their spouses’ or partners’ cars.
The clients would bring the car to Butler, who would then hide a silent cell phone with an active microphone in the vehicle, according to the indictment.
When Nolan or one of her staff members called the phone, the device would silently connect the call and allow them to eavesdrop, the conspiracy count alleges.
“Nolan intended to use the recorded telephone conversations to assist her clients’ legal proceedings,” the indictment alleges.
In the final count of the indictment, Nolan is accused of procuring another person to intercept the communications in the car of a victim identified as N.F. from Aug. 9 until at least Sept. 9, 2007.
That count matches the illegal wiretapping charge to which Butler pleaded guilty in May. In that part of his case, Butler pleaded guilty to wiretapping cell phone communications to and from a victim identified as N.F. on Aug. 9, 2007.
Butler was accused in a 2011 indictment together with Norman Wielsch, the former commander of the Central Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, known as CNET.
The two were charged with an array of drug and corruption charges, including stealing and reselling marijuana and methamphetamine seized by CNET, extorting payments from women in an illegal massage parlor they ran, and conspiring to violate the civil rights of prostitutes they identified through the Internet by stealing the prostitutes’ money and cell phones.
Wielsch, of Antioch, is slated to go on trial in Armstrong’s court on January.
Nolan’s not-yet-scheduled trial was also assigned to Armstrong. The charges against her each carry a potential sentence of up to five years in prison if she is convicted.
A lawyer for Nolan could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
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