A former Antioch police officer and private investigator was sentenced Tuesday afternoon to eight years in prison following a high-profile string of arrests that disgraced the Contra Costa County California Narcotic Enforcement Team last year.
A former Contra Costa County sheriff's deputy has been convicted of helping a private investigator arrest men for drunken driving to help their wives in divorce and custody battles now dubbed the "Dirty DUI" case.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco announced that Stephen Tanabe, 50, was convicted Tuesday of conspiracy, extortion and wire fraud. Tanabe was acquitted on one extortion count. The maximum sentencing guidelines is 20 years in prison.
“This conviction confirms that Stephen Tanabe did not serve his community with honor or integrity, but instead set up unsuspecting citizens and abused the public trust,” U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said in a statement. “Law enforcement officers are hard-working, honorable men and women who work selflessly every day to keep us safe. Stephen Tanabe is the exception, and he does not deserve the badge he was wearing.”
Prosecutors say the now-disgraced former deputy accepted a gun from Christopher Butler - a former Antioch police officer - to arrest two men outside Danville bars in elaborate stings known as ``dirty DUIs.'' Authorities say the private investigator was hired to tarnish their images.
Butler, who testified against Tanabe, was sentenced last year to eight years in prison for drug dealing. He was the center of a corruption scandal that resulted in convictions of Bay Area police officers from four agencies, including the former head of a drug task force.
According to evidence presented at trial, Tanabe took bribes in exchange for his services as a deputy sheriff. Specifically, the evidence showed that Butler was hired by wives and ex-wives engaged in divorce and child custody proceedings to arrange “stings” against their spouses, whom they told Butler had a propensity to drink and drive. Butler used “decoys” to entice the sting targets to bars in downtown Danville, where Tanabe was assigned to patrol, and encourage them to drink.
For one sting, Tanabe joined Butler in a bar while off-duty, watching two young women working for Butler drink with a sting target. Evidence showed that, in exchange for cocaine, Tanabe notified an on-duty deputy that the sting target was about to drive away, having been lured by the prospect of a hot tub with the two women. For two other stings, the evidence showed that Tanabe, then on-duty, waited outside the Vine Bar in Danville and then arrested the targets in exchange for a Glock handgun.
In March, NBC Bay Area was the first media organization to obtain the undercover video showing Butler and Wielsch in an apparent drug transaction at Butler's office in Concord. To see that video, click below.
View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.