Accused narcotics officer talks about drug scandal

April 1, 2011 9:55:45 PM PDT
For the first time, a former narcotics task force commander at the center of a growing scandal is talking about what happened. Norman Wielsch wants to set the record straight, at least on some of the accusations against him.

Until now, Wielsch has kept silent, not wanting to make any public statements about the criminal case against him. But Friday, he wanted to speak up. Without getting into details of the felony drug case, he apologized for what he called one "long mistake," but he strongly denied some new separate allegations against him.

"Now I'm being accused of something I didn't even do," Wielsch said.

As he awaits trial in a criminal case, Wielsch has some things to say about other allegations he says are untrue. Wielsch spoke to ABC7 surrounded by his family.

The former head of the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Task Force (CNET), Wielsch and private investigator Chris Butler face 28 felony counts, accused of stealing and selling seized drug evidence.

"I just want to say I'm really sorry, to all my friends, my family, my agency, law enforcement in general," Wielsch said.

Wednesday, Vallejo attorney Tim Pori announced a multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit against Wielsch, another CNET agent and three Antioch police officers.

"These offices are acting like mobsters and gangsters," Pori said.

The lawsuit claims the officers stole private property during warrant searches.

"We're alleging these individuals are conducting a pattern of a continuing criminal enterprise where they're abusing the courts and their police authority to seize jewelry, money, currency and other personal effects from these law abiding citizens," Pori said.

Pori provided surveillance photos and videos showing the officers, including a man Pori claims is Wielsch, searching the Grow It Yourself Gardens hydroponics store in Antioch in 2009. The lawsuit claims much of the search was done without a warrant and that the owners of the store, the O'Tooles, had personal items, even a Victoria's Secret gift card, seized and never returned. The O'Tooles were never charged with a crime.

Wielsch acknowledges some resemblance but says the man in the surveillance images is not him.

"To me, the officer in the pictures looks like he has tattoos, the hair is different, plus we wear totally different raid gear than Antioch PD wears; if I've done something wrong, I'll admit it, but that's not me," Wielsch said.

Pori says he still believes the man in the surveillance video is Wielsch and he wants his case to go to a jury so they can decide.


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