Free on $400,000 bail, Norman Wielsch listened as his attorney entered a plea of not-guilty to 28 felony counts. Wielsch is the commander of the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team.
Private investigator Chris Butler also pleaded not guilty. Both men are accused of conspiring to steal and sell large quantities of marijuana, methamphetamine and other drugs.
"Norm Wielsch is devastated by this, I mean he is absolutely devastated, I've never seen anyone in my 34 years more remorseful," Wielsch's attorney Michael Cardoza said.
A search warrant also outlined efforts by the two men to sell two bricks of C-4 military explosive.
A judge denied a plea from Butler's attorney to reduce his bail from $900,000.
The judge's ruling came after a prosecutor described a 2009 incident when Butler and Wielsch staged a mock arrest of a troubled teenager and took 4,000 Xanax pills the boy had hidden in his mattress.
"It was in response to a mother legitimately concerned about her son being involved in drugs," Butler's attorney Bill Gagen said. "Can an investigator do what he did? No. Should he have done it? No. Was it done for criminal purposes? We believe not."
Court documents outline recorded phone conversations between Wielsch and Butler in the days leading up to their arrest. Referring to methamphetamine in a police evidence room, Butler says, "What if we swap out what was in there like flour?" Wielsch responds by saying, "Well the problem is that it's at the Sheriff's Department."
Both men will be back in court in three weeks. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.