Wearing orange jail jumpsuits, two men with long ties to law enforcement entered a Martinez courtroom.
The 28-count felony complaint includes charges that Contra Costa Narcotics Task Force head Norman Wielsch and private investigator Christopher Butler conspired over a four month period to sell large quantities of methamphetamine, marijuana and other illegal drugs.
"The charges against those two individuals covers the times between November 2010 and February 16, 2011," Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson said. "The evidence which we have received indicates the alleged criminal activity does not include any other police officers."
The drugs include methamphetamine, marijuana, Xanax, anabolic steroids and ephedrine, a prime ingredient in methamphetamine. The complaint details at least five transactions involving more than $11,000 in cash. The pair is also accused of attempting to import illegal drugs into California from outside the state.
According to the complaint, some of the drugs Wielsch and Butler sold were stolen from the Contra Costa Sheriff's property room and Wielsch's own narcotics task force headquarters in Pleasant Hill. In another instance, according to the complaint, the two men are accused of selling illegal steroids Wielsch was supposed to have destroyed and deposited in a landfill.
"When you look at the amount of money involved, here in regards to this arrest and how it affected his lie, one has to ask, 'What were you thinking? But again, we as human beings do make mistakes," Wielsch's attorney Michael Cardoza said.
Butler's attorney says he worries his client is already being made the scapegoat for the illegal activity instigated by Wielsch.
"Mr. Butler's a private investigator; it's awfully easy to dump responsibility on Mr. Butler and if that is the route Mr. Cardoza intends to go, we're in for a fight," Bill Gagen said.
Peterson acknowledged that this case will likely lead to a review of at least some drug cases involving Wielsch.
Wielsch and Butler did not enter pleas. They are due back in court on March 2.