Date set for trial of former head of CNET

Norman Wielsch accused of selling drugs, robbery, extortion

The cop in charge of Contra Costa County's anti-drug effort has a federal court date set for the drug charges against him.

Norman Wielsch, former head of CCNET -- the Contra Costa Narcotic Enforcement Team -- faces a 17-count indictment that includes charges of extortion, robbery, conspiracy, possession with intent to sell and distribution of both methamphetamine and marijuana.

Wielsch is set for a four-week trial to begin Jan. 28, with a pretrial conference set for Jan. 15. Court records from a hearing Tuesday say he has until the Friday before his trial to change his plea, should he decide to do so.

Those documents also show Wielsch wrote a $50,000 check to post his bail last August and that he was ordered to receive mental health counseling before his trial.

The federal government took over the case last year, but Contra Costa is keeping its case active pending the outcome of the trial in U.S. courts.

The case began in January as a state Department of Justice investigation into alleged criminal activity of Wielsch, who was at the time the commander of CNET, and Christopher Butler, a private investigator and former Antioch police officer.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office filed charges against Wielsch, 51, and Butler, 50, in February 2011, accusing Wielsch of stealing drugs from law enforcement evidence lockers and working with Butler to have them sold back out into the community.

Over the following three months, investigators uncovered evidence that Stephen Tanabe, 48, who was a Danville police officer at the time, and Louis Lombardi, 39, who was a San Ramon police officer at the time, were also involved in some of Wielsch and Butler's alleged criminal activities.

Tanabe pleaded not guilty to the federal charges he faces in late May.

Lombardi pleaded guilty to four federal misdemeanor counts for stealing thousands of dollars in cash and property during searches of suspects' homes and to five counts for possessing and selling drugs and stolen firearms while he worked on CNET.

He faces a maximum sentence of more than 60 years in federal prison.

All four suspects pleaded not guilty to the state charges.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

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