Charges Filed in Cops' 'Dirty DUIs' Case

Contra Costa prosecutors allege a Contra Costa sheriff's deputy orchestrated false DUI arrests.

By Jodi Hernandez
|  Friday, Apr 8, 2011  |  Updated 2:49 PM PDT
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Charges Filed in Cops' 'Dirty DUIs' Case

Criminal charges have been filed against former Contra Costa County Sheriff's Deputy Stephen Tanabe over alleged "dirty" DUIs as well as steroid theft and distribution.

Contra Costa County prosecutors claim Tanabe paired with former Narcotic Enforcement Team (CNET) Commander Norman Wielsch and well known private investigator Christopher Butler.

The district attorney has dismissed 15 other pending cases in connection with the allegations against these police officers: four CNET drug cases, six CNET prostitution cases and five sheriff's cases involving Tanabe as the arresting officer.

The amended complaint, filed Friday morning, states that Tanabe conspired with Butler to obstruct justice by "falsely" and "malicioulsy" charging and arresting two men for DUI. The complaint also states that Tanabe accepted a bribe from Butler. The DA's investigation is ongoing.

Wielsch's attorney notes that no new charges have been brought against his client.

The complaint details the dirty DUI allegations like this: 

* Sometime between Oct. 26 and Nov. 1 Butler arranged to have a female decoy invite an individual to Meenar's Bar in Danville. 

* On Nov. 2, Tanabe allegedly told the female decoy to speed away from bar, and that Tanabe asked another Danville officer to stop that individual shortly thereafter for a suspected DUI.

* On Nov. 3 Tanabe told the officer "Yeah, this is probably gonna screw him." Tanabe asked the officer to keep his name out of the police report.

* On Jan. 14 Butler arranged to have Tanabe at a different bar in Danville, Vine Bar. Tanabe told another police officer that he will perform a "dirty DUI" on a second individual.  Allegedly Butler gave Tanabe a description of the second individual's car and that Tanabe arrested that individual for DUI. 

* The complaint goes on to read that Tanabe "deliberately wrote an inaccurate police report regarding the stop of (the second individual's car)."

The complaint also states that Wielsch and Butler obtained marijuana from the CNET evidence locker. Then Butler told Tanabe he had steroids or "juice" from Wielsch. Tanabe got steroid samples and a price list, allegedly. Tanabe told an individual they could buy steroids for $80-90, according to the report.

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