San Ramon cop charged in CNET scandal

May 6, 2011 7:43:14 PM PDT
A San Ramon police officer appeared in a Martinez courtroom Friday, charged with five felonies related to the growing law enforcement scandal in Contra Costa County.

Dressed in a yellow jail jumpsuit, San Ramon police officer Louis Lombardi made his first court appearance. Lombardi did not enter a plea to allegations he conspired with former Contra Costa Narcotics Task Force commander Norman Wielsch and private investigator Christopher Butler to obtain and sell seized drug evidence.

Lombardi, a former CNET member is also accused of embezzlement and possession of an illegal assault rifle.

"It's a difficult situation, to say the least, to go from the position of being on the other side of the bars to being where Officer Lombardi is now," said Lombardi's attorney Harry Stern.

Prosecutors say Lombardi met with Wielsch and Butler in May of 2009 in Pleasant Hill to discuss how to make money in the marijuana business. In early 2010, Lombardi is accused of selling 1,200 ecstasy pills. According to prosecutors, they were pills Wielsch initially gave to Butler to sell. Later in 2010, Lombardi's charged with selling a half-pound of marijuana to an informant in Arizona -- drugs that had been seized in a CNET raid.

"This is a bad thing. I recognize that, the whole law enforcement community does," said San Ramon Police Chief Scott Holder, chairman of CNET. "But the bottom line is there's far too many men and women out there that are doing the right thing."

Lombardi is the third police officer arrested in the CNET scandal.

Asked whether there are more police officers who will be caught up in this, prosecutor Jun Fernandez said, "There's still further investigation going on. So I can't say that there are others and there's been no other indication of other officers so far."

Last month, in an interview with ABC7, Wielsch did not believe any more officers were going to be caught up in the scandal.

According to someone close to Wielsch, he is stunned by the arrest of friend and former colleague Lombardi. Wielsch maintains no other police officers were involved in his activities with Butler. However, the district attorney says they are still investigating.

Lombardi remains in jail on $500,000 bail.


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