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Co-Defendant Says Former Drug Force Commander Ran Brothel, Robbed Competitors

Former Concord private investigator, arrested on drug charges, claims co-defendant — the former Contra Costa County Drug Task Force commander — helped run a brothel and staged raids on the competition.

Staff and wire reports
More signs are emerging that two longtime friends, former Antioch police officers and alleged partners in a scandal that is rocking the Contra Costa County law enforcement community are turning on each other to gain leverage in their pending court cases. 

Christopher Butler, best known for his Concord private investigations firm that employed attractive women known as "P.I" Moms, has alleged that his friend, a former Contra Costa County drug task force commander, was not only helping him run a brothel but was robbing prostitutes with rival operations, according to a report Saturday in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Norman Wielsch, the former task force commander and  an ex-state Department of Justice agent, said " prostitutes and drug dealers deserved to have their money stolen." This is according to allegations Butler made in a 34-page narrative he provided to investigators and that was obtained by the Chronicle.

Butler and Wielsch, who both served on the Antioch police force, are charged in a scandal that also involves police officers in Danville and San Ramon. Wielsch, 50, and Butler, 49, have been charged with conspiracy; selling methamphetamine, marijuana and steroids; and possessing methamphetamine, marijuana and steroids for sale.

Wielsch allegedly stole the drugs from law enforcement evidence lockers and Butler allegedly arranged to have them sold, according to court documents. They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Two other defendants, former Danville Police officer  Stephen Tanabe, 47, of Alamo and San Ramon police Officer Louis Lombardi, 38, have also been charged in the case, which also involved at least half a dozen arrests of East Bay men involved in contentious divorce cases. Butler supposedly hired women to get the men drunk at bars in towns including Danville, Clayton and Concord then called police to have them arrested on drunken driving charges to tarnish their reputations. Tanabe, who also served on the Antioch force from 1995 to 1997, saying he did nothing criminal and claiming he put too much trust in his friend, Butler.

Through his attorney, Wielsch denies involvement in prostitution. Walnut Creek attorney Michael Cardoza said the document Butler gave law enforcement was "fiction." 

The document says that Wielsch in 2009 worked out an arrangement with a 36-year-old Oakland woman whom he had previously arrested in Walnut Creek for prostitution. She would help him and Butler set up a massage parlor on Gregory Lane in Pleasant Hill, according to the Chronicle.

Butler said Wielsch had him make weekly pickups of $250 to $500 from each woman who worked at the massage parlor called The Divine Skin. Butler said San Ramon police Officer Lombardi was also aware of the brothel operation, according to the Chronicle. 

Butler further alleged that Wielsch had his multi-agency drug task force make raids on competing massage parlors, primarily run by Asian women.  Wielsch would take cash, as well as condoms and cell phones in order to "make a serious dent" in the prostitutes' operations, Butler said in his narrative, according to the Chronicle. 

"Norm Wielsch was not involved with running a brothel," Cardoza said. "Chris Butler has made up this fairy tale."

He said he believes Butler was running an alleged brothel by himself and dragged Wielsch's name into it to persuade prosecutors to offer him a reduced prison sentence in exchange for turning in dirty cops.

"Butler leased the property. He bought the furniture from IKEA. He brought it to the premises and put it together. He hired the girls. He collected the money," Cardoza said. "He says he was forced to do it" because he was afraid of Wielsch, Cardoza said. "But if you know Butler, nobody forces him to do anything. He's a tough guy."

Cardoza added that when Wielsch was arrested, he confessed to the drug-related charges and cooperated with police without asking for a lawyer, but he never mentioned anything about prostitution "because it isn't true."

Butler may have named other police officers in the document he gave to investigators but not in connection with the brothel, Cardoza said.

Butler's Danville attorney, William Gagen, told the San Francisco Chronicle that Wielsch had Butler lease the spot on Gregory Lane and employ the Oakland woman to manage the brothel.

The business, now closed, was located in a small strip mall in the middle of a residential area and up the street from several large churches. The strip mall also houses a Thai restaurant, a florist and a 7-Eleven store.

According to court records, Wielsch arrested the woman in Walnut Creek in July 2009 on suspicion of prostition when he headed the task force. With Wielsch's intervention, the Chronicle said, the woman's charge was reduced to a misdmeanor disturbing the peace.

After neighboring tenants complained about scantily clad women entering the massage shop after normal business hours, Wielsch sent an agent to investigate but only after he provided a photograph of the agent to the female manager to make sure the agent received a legitimate massage, the Chronicle reported.

Contra Costa County Prosecutor Harold Jewett said today that he couldn't confirm any of the allegations related to prostitution. He explained that he couldn't comment on an ongoing investigation.

"We're going to follow this investigation wherever it leads," he said. No charges related to prostitution have been filed, he said. Pleasant Hill police also could not be reached for comment. 

Bay City News contributed to this report. 

terry May 26, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Your Right this is the story that just keeps giving! The DA has 6 months worth of undercover evidence to pour though, phone numbers,text messages,photo's & so on, they are just now rolling some of the obvious perps, and allowing them to sing. Who & Where it leads to is anyones guess, but it could get ugly. What happened to the San Ramon Divorce attorney Mary Nolan who was helping her client's out with these phoney Dirty DUI's, just another link yet to be explored. Just my Opinion!
Ralph Hoffmann May 26, 2011 at 03:08 AM
Testosterone is a steroid that is naturally occuring in the human body and therefore can't be detected when taken.
Lais Newton June 02, 2011 at 11:06 PM
It is what it is any where you live whether it is in a good community or not STUFF happens. PEOPLE are PEOPLE GOOD and BAD. In the long run everyone will be judged in this world ALIVE or DEAD. Just my Opinion
t.bemis June 03, 2011 at 12:07 AM
inShare0 ReprintPrint Email Font Resize DA to announce 'major development' in ongoing police corruption case By Malaika Fraley Contra Costa Times Posted: 06/02/2011 04:03:18 PM PDT MARTINEZ -- The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office says it expects to make a big announcement Friday regarding the ongoing probe into police corruption in Contra Costa County. The office has alerted the media that it's holding a news conference at 2 p.m. Friday concerning a "major development" in the criminal case against a former Concord private investigator and three former law enforcement officers from the state Department of Justice and Danville and San Ramon police departments. District Attorney Mark Peterson would not comment Thursday on the nature of the announcement.
t.bemis June 03, 2011 at 12:08 AM
I believe the announcement will be the Fed'd are taking over...Thank God!!!

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