Ex-police officer Wielsch sentenced to 14 years in prison

Chris Butler and Norman Wielsch.
May 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The saga that's rocked the Contra Costa County law enforcement community came to a close Monday as Norman Wielsch, the former head of the county's drug enforcement task force was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison.

Even after his client was sentenced to prison, Wielsch's attorney Ray Erlach insisted his client was not motivated by greed.

"There's no defense here. He knew right from wrong. The problem is, is that he was making decisions not as a hardened criminal, he was making decisions based on impulse," he said.

During a previous court appearance prior to his sentencing, Wielsch made a tearful plea to the judge, asking for leniency.

"My failure was I put up a strong front, but I was breaking down mentally and emotionally," Wielsch said in a statement.

Besides a debilitating medical condition and bouts with depression, Wielsch argued he acted under duress in committing his crimes.

He claims a private investigator named Chris Butler blackmailed him with a claim that there was a videotape of him having sex with a prostitute. Wielsch is married.

"Said that he had a tape of Norman in a compromising position with a young lady and that that tape was useful and maybe his wife would see it," said Erlach.

Wielsch and Butler both pleaded guilty to charges they stole drugs and money from evidence lockers and from people Wielsch arrested over a two year period.

Attorney Sara Zalkin says she represents one of Wielsch's victims.

"If you want to, you know, go out and steal and sell dope and rob people, don't be a police officer," she said.

The judge said she considered Wielsch's medical and mental conditions when sentencing him. He will serve at least 10 of his 14 years sentence. Butler will serve eight years.


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