US Attorney, FBI take over CNET investigation

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. Contra Costa District Attorney Mark Peterson announced Friday afternoon that the U.S. Attorney for Northern California and the FBI will take over the lead in the investigation and prosecution of the county's growing law enforcement scandal.

"This investigation has no encompassed multiple cities and counties, multiple police officers, multiple police agencies and it has crossed state lines," Peterson said, adding that lack of resources was one reason his office was turning to the federal government for help.

Central Contra Costa Drug Task Force Commander Norman Wielsch, private investigator Chris Butler and former police officers Stephen Tanabe and Lewis Lombardi have all been named in a 38 count indictment. The charges include conspiracy, the sale and possession for sale of methamphetamines, illegal steroids, and marijuana, possession of assault weapons, embezzlement, receipt of stolen property and bribery.

Peterson said the state charges would not be dropped while the FBI and federal investigators pursue their investigation. Federal charges could include those allowed by the RICO federal corruption statute, which was designed to punish racketeering, which is an organization or group that engages in a pattern of crimes.

"The original intent of RICO was to enhance the punishment for organized crime activity," ABC7 legal analyst Dean Johnson said..

Wielsch's attorney Michael Cardoza told ABC7 News, "The federal charges are more draconian. It's not a good situation for us. We hope to stay in the state court."

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