A federal judge on Monday sentenced Norman Wielsch to 14 years in prison for his role in a police corruption case that rocked the East Bay in 2010.
Wielsch cried and told the courtroom he was so ashamed for his behavior. His attorney, Raymond Erlach, told NBC Bay Area before the sentencing hearing that Wielsch was suffering from depression and despair which made him go "haywire" and commit some "bonehead" crimes.
Wielsch could have faxed a maximum of 17 years in prison, and his lawyer had been arguing for ten. But U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Armstrong chose the middle range - 14 years.
Wielsch, the former commander of the Contra Costa County drug task force, pleaded guilty in December to felony charges including narcotics possession and conspiracy to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine. Wielsch's co-conspirator, Christopher Butler, was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in the scheme last September.
Wielsch admitted in court to stealing the drugs from law enforcement evidence lockers before selling them for cash. They are felonies that could put him in prison for more than 17 years.
During his December plea, Wielsch explained to the court how he got involved in the high-profile East Bay crime spree that began in 2010 when he said he stole marijuana that was due to be destroyed. He then went down the list of crimes he committed. During the court hearing, Wielsch apologized to the law enforcement community for his conduct. He said he tarnished the badge.
"Most of all I'd like to say I'm sorry to my dad who I let down and brought disgrace to my family name. I'm very sorry," Wielsch testified sobbing.
Wielsch had faced 11 felony counts and life in prison prior to the plea bargain. "I take full responsibility for my actions," he said.
Wielsch was a CNET commander when he and former Concord private investigator Christopher Butler were caught on tape making a drug deal. CNET has since disbanded.
The police-corruption investigation led to the arrests of two other Contra Costa County law enforcement officers. Butler was sentenced in May after pleading guilty to six charges, including extortion, robbery and conspiring to deal drugs.
Federal sentencing guidelines mandate a sentences from 14 years to 17 years.