CNET defendants must return to court next month

May 19, 2011 4:40:02 PM PDT
Contra Costa law enforcement officers accused of stealing and selling drug evidence were back in court Thursday. At a brief hearing, a judge allowed former Contra Costa Narcotics Task Force commander Norman Wielsch more freedom to travel outside the county so he can tend to some family health issues. He also ordered Wielsch and the three other defendants in this case to return next month.

Two of four defendants, Wielsch and San Ramon police officer Louis Lombardi, made a brief appearance in a Walnut Creek courtroom Thursday in the growing CNET scandal.

"what just happened here today is the matter was put over to June 23 so that all four named people in the second amended complaint can appear at that date," said Lombardi's attorney Dirk Manoukian.

Wielsch, Lombardi and accused co-conspirator Christopher Butler are all named in a 38-count felony complaint that alleges the men conspired to steal and sell drug evidence, possessed illegal weapons and embezzled money. Butler and former Danville officer Stephen Tanabe are charged with setting men up for dirty DUI arrests.

In a 34-page statement Butler gave investigators, he also claims he conspired with Wielsch and Lombardi to run a brothel out of a Pleasant Hill massage parlor.

Prosecutors have not charged any of the defendants with any crime related to the brothel allegations.

"There's not going to be any type of charges in terms of that issue, anytime soon, that I know of," said prosecutor Jun Fernandez.

Wielsch's attorney, Michael Cardoza, acknowledged that the FBI is now involved in the CNET investigation.

"Now the federal government is involved," said Cardoza. "I assumed their corruption unit is involved with this to see what's going on in this particular case and, I imagine, to see if it's more far-reaching in this county."

Cardoza went on to say that he has not yet been contacted by the FBI, but if and when he is, he told ABC7 he will not allow his client to speak with federal investigators.


Load Comments