A federal criminal case involving alleged police corruption in Contra Costa County took an abrupt turn Thursday for a veteran officer involved in a "dirty cop" scandal that rocked several East Bay departments last year.
San Ramon police officer Louis Lombardi, who was arrested in March 2011, pleaded guilty to nine criminal counts that could put him behind bars for more than 60 years. Lombardi was also a former officer of Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team.
People in the courtroom Thursday were shocked to hear a police officer who has been in law enforcement for 20 years admit he took part in several serious crimes that spanned several years.
In court, Lombardi described stealing money and other items during search warrants, using Narcotic Enforcement Team (CNET) money to buy a stolen firearm from an informant, selling drugs back to an informant from whom he seized it from, and taking two guns he logged as being destroyed. He also admitted to planning to open a illegal marijuana grow house with the intent to sell the pot to a contact in Arizona. He said most of his crimes were done with the help of police officer Norman Wielsch and a private investigator named Christopher Butler.
Federal prosecutors said Lombardi stole $40,000 worth of goods during searches of homes and massage parlors.
Following his plea, Lombardi was taken into custody by U.S. Marshalls. He still faces sentencing as well as charges from state court. In exchange for the plea, Lombardi has agreed to cooperate with the government with their corruption case against Butler and Wielsch.
Last March, criminal charges were filed against former Contra Costa County Sheriff's Deputy Stephen Tanabe, former CNET Commander Norman Wielsch and private investigator Christopher Butler who investigators claim were all involved in criminal acts.
In court Thursday, Lombardi only talked about turning evidence against Wielsch and Butler. He made no mention of Tanabe.
Below is a special report by Jessica Aguirre on a magazine's role in breaking the case.