Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Bad Cop: Norman Wielsch of Contra Costa County
2012-12-03 "East Bay cop to plead guilty in drug case" by Justin Berton from "San Francisco Chronicle"[http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/East-Bay-cop-to-plead-guilty-in-drug-case-4088040.php]:
The former commander of an elite Contra Costa County police squad will plead guilty this week to charges that he stole narcotics from evidence lockers and tried to sell them back on the street with the help of a private investigator, court records show.
Under a plea deal filed Monday in federal court, Norman Wielsch, 51, will admit to five charges in a 2011 federal indictment in exchange for a lighter sentence.
The charges allege that he stole marijuana and methamphetamines, falsely arrested a suspected drug dealer, and stole cash and cell phones from prostitutes, his attorney said.
The terms of the deal require Wielsch to agree not to argue for fewer than 10 years in prison when he is sentenced by a judge in February, his attorney, Michael Cardoza, said. Wielsch was facing more than 25 years behind bars. Federal guidelines recommend that he serve 14 to 17 years, but the judge has wide discretion on the length.
"After a full evaluation of all the evidence," Cardoza said, "he decided that it would be in his and his family's best interest to plead guilty."
Before his arrest, Wielsch was an agent with the state Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement for 12 years, and most recently served as commander of the Central Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, an elite multi-agency team that conducted drug raids and shut down prostitution rings.
The change of plea ends one story line in a saga that began in February 2011, when authorities arrested Wielsch and his friend, Concord private investigator Christopher Butler, 51.
Those arrests came after one of Butler's most trusted employees wore a concealed wire and video-recorded the two men making a drug deal. The video appeared to show Wielsch counting money and voicing concerns about selling confiscated drugs.
Butler, who pleaded guilty in September and is serving an eight-year prison term, earlier told authorities about a raft of dirty deeds that allegedly involved four other local lawmen.
The ensuing investigation led to the imprisonment of Wielsch's second-in-command, San Ramon officer Louis Lombardi, 40, for stealing cash and drugs from crime scenes and lifting two stolen guns. Two Richmond police officers with ties to Butler were sentenced in August on charges that they illegally purchased guns for minors and tried to obstruct a federal investigation.
And former Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff Stephen Tanabe, 48, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he participated in Butler's "dirty DUI" stings, where prosecutors say the officer arrested men who were targeted and set up for drunken driving arrests. His trial is pending.
In addition, Butler told authorities that Wielsch assisted him when he opened a Pleasant Hill massage parlor to front for a brothel. The private eye said Wielsch shared in the profits and used his law enforcement position to protect the operation, while ordering raids on competing brothels.
Cardoza said his client's alleged connection to the parlor was not among the charges he'll admit to Wednesday, when he is scheduled to appear in an Oakland courtroom before he is taken into custody.
"He spent the weekend with his church group," Cardoza said. "He understands from that day on he will be serving a lengthy amount of time for the crimes he committed."
In interviews after his arrest, Wielsch said he was deeply stressed from his job when he decided to steal the drugs and regretted the dishonor he brought to law enforcement.
"Norm certainly hopes other police officers are paying attention to what went on in this situation," Cardoza said, "and if they are ever tempted to do anything that they give it a second thought and not do it."
2012-12-04 "Ex-police officer will plead guilty in drug case" from "Associated Press"[http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Ex-police-officer-will-plead-guilty-in-drug-case-4089494.php]:
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A disgraced former commander of an elite Northern California drug task force will plead guilty to stealing drugs from evidence lockers and trying to sell them on the street with the help of a private investigator.
Under a plea deal filed Monday in federal court, Norman Wielsch, 51, on Wednesday will admit guilt in an Oakland courtroom to five drug and corruption charges stemming from a 2011 indictment, the San Francisco Chronicle reported (http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/East-Bay-cop-to-admit-guilt-in-drug-case-4088040.php).
"After a full evaluation of all the evidence, he decided that it would be in his and his family's best interest to plead guilty," Wielsch's attorney, Michael Cardoza, said Monday.
Wielsch was the commander of the now-defunct Central Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, an elite multi-agency task force that conducted drug raids and shut down prostitution rings.
Last year, the FBI arrested Wielsch and private investigator Christopher Butler after a grand jury indicted them for stealing drugs, operating a brothel and conducting phony sting operations to rob prostitutes.
Those arrests came after one of Butler's most trusted employees wore a concealed wire and recorded the two men making a drug deal. A video appeared to show Wielsch counting money and airing his concerns about selling confiscated drugs.
As a private investigator, Butler also acknowledged setting up so-called "dirty DUIs" for wives in divorce cases. The scheme involved hiring attractive women to lure the husbands into cheating and drunken driving. Butler orchestrated the arrests after he was hired by ex-wives, prosecutors said.
At the time, Butler also was trying to land a cable reality show, "P.I. Moms of San Francisco," that featured a crew of female detectives tracking down and videotaping cheating husbands.
Butler pleaded guilty in September to similar criminal charges and is serving an eight-year prison sentence. He said his crimes involved several other officers, including Wielsch.
Butler told authorities that Wielsch aided him when he opened a massage parlor in Pleasant Hill to front for a brothel. Butler added Wielsch shared in the profits and used his status as a law enforcement official to protect the operation, while ordering raids on competing brothels.
Cardoza said Wielsch's alleged connection to the parlor was not among the charges he will be pleading to on Wednesday.
"He understands from that day on he will be serving a lengthy amount of time for the crimes he committed," Cardoza said about Wielsch. "Norm certainly hopes other police officers are paying attention to what went on in this situation, and if they are ever tempted to do anything that they give it a second thought and not do it."
Under terms of the deal, Wielsch, who was facing more than 25 years in prison, could spend up to 17 years behind bars when he's sentenced in February.
Posted by Northbay Uprising Radio at 8:52 PM