P.I. Soccer Moms!
Original Air Date: February 18, 2012 7:55 PM
Soccer moms-turned-private investigators... real-life "Charlie's Angels." But there were secrets and danger. Maureen Maher reports.
-- April 16, 2011, Statement by New York City Police Officer Michael Daragjati, boasting of his false arrest of another African-American male.
Wife-Beater, Drug Dealer,
Liar, Thief & Cop!
Liar, Thief & Cop!
Updated: 09/29/2011 12:19:32 PM PDT
See: Criminal Cops! - 2012 - Part VI (Lombardi Pleads Guilty!)
OAKLAND, CA -- A former San Ramon police officer accused of stealing drugs, cash and guns as part of a law enforcement corruption scandal was released on bond from federal custody Tuesday, two weeks after he was arrested on unrelated charges of domestic battery. Louis Lombardi, 39 (pictured above, center) appeared in Oakland federal court, where his parents posted a $500,000 bond. The 25-minute hearing in front of magistrate Judge Donna Ryu confirmed that Lombardi, a former agent with the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team, had been arrested and charged by federal authorities in connection with the investigation that has yielded the indictment of his former commander, Norman Wielsch, and Concord private investigator Christopher Butler. Federal court documents related to Lombardi have remained under seal.
Lombardi's attorney declined to discuss his client's role in the federal investigation. He said outside the courtroom that he was happy that Lombardi had been released after spending two weeks in jail. "I'm pleased that the judge, after having the opportunity to more thoroughly review the facts, determined that Louis Lombardi was neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community," Lombardi's attorney said. Federal authorities had placed a hold on Lombardi after he was arrested Sept. 13 in connection with an alleged domestic battery incident at his Discovery Bay home. The move resulted in an unusually high bail amount of $1 million. Lombardi allegedly punched holes in the wall of his home and made threats to hurt himself and his fiancee. Ryu described the incident as "pretty scary."
Lombardi's fiancee, parents and several other family members were in the gallery Tuesday to support the former officer. His attorney said the fiancee called the Contra Costa County district attorney's office shortly after the incident and asked prosecutors not to press charges. "No one was injured, no one was hurt," the attorney said.
In addition to the federal corruption case, Lombardi is facing state allegations that he stole drugs, cash and guns that police had seized. Contra Costa County prosecutors say Lombardi sold seized marijuana to informants he had met through his narcotics work and planned to operate a marijuana grow house. Lombardi pleaded not guilty and remained free on $500,000 bail until his most recent arrest. He resigned from the San Ramon Police Department in May. As a condition of Lombardi's release, Ryu ordered him to live with his parents. The couple will act as "the eyes and ears of the court" and are required to report any violations of their son's bail or face contempt-of-court charges, the judge said. "It's actually your responsibility to tell on him," Ryu said.
Posted: 09/16/2011 03:42:54 PM PDT
Updated: 09/19/2011 02:55:32 PM PDT
DISCOVERY BAY, CA -- A former San Ramon officer tied to a high-profile Contra Costa police corruption scandal is in jail again after a domestic-violence arrest this week, the Contra Costa Sheriff's Office said. Louis Lombardi, 39, was arrested Tuesday night at his home on Willow Lake Road, said sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee. Deputies took Lombardi into custody on suspicion of making criminal threats, a felony, and misdemeanor spousal battery. Lombardi was booked into County Jail in Martinez, where he remains on $1 million bail. His attorney, Dirk Manoukian, said the circumstances are not as severe as they appear.
"I can't comment specifically on very many of the details, but I can tell you no one was injured and there are no allegations anyone was injured," Manoukian said. "We're hopeful when all the facts are known that the allegations will be handled appropriately." Lombardi (pictured left) had been free on bail after his May 4 arrest on charges he sold drugs to informants and took cash, drugs and guns from police seizures. Authorities say the crimes occurred while he was on the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team, known as CNET, headed by Norman Wielsch, who was ousted as commander.
Federal authorities are now prosecuting Wielsch and former Concord private investigator Christopher Butler, who police say were the ringleaders of a scheme that began with trafficking drugs stolen from evidence lockers and grew to include allegations of phony arrests and prostitution.
Accused co-conspirators Lombardi and former Danville Officer Stephen Tanabe have been charged locally but have avoided federal prosecution.
Lombardi faces the following charges:
•» Accessory/Aiding and Abetting
•» Grand Theft (weapons)
•» Possession of stolen property (guns, ID, illegal drugs); and
•» Possession of an Illegal Assault Rifle.
The most recent arrest has added the following charges:
•» Suspicion of making criminal threats, a felony; and
•» Misdemeanor spousal battery.
Posted: 05/20/2011 11:04:57 AM PDT
Updated: 05/21/2011 04:50:46 PM PDT
SAN LEANDRO, CA -- A narcotics detective has been charged with transporting and furnishing marijuana to a confidential informant for sale, authorities said. Jason Fredriksson, 38, surrendered to authorities on a $50,000 warrant Friday at the Hayward Hall of Justice, San Leandro police Chief Sandra Spagnoli said.
Fredriksson, (an alleged Drug-Dealer, pictured left) a member of San Leandro's vice and narcotics unit since 2008, had been under criminal investigation by the police department and the Alameda County District Attorney's Office since March 18, when a San Leandro resident "personally notified" the police chief that the drug detective was involved in criminal activity, Spagnoli said. Five days later, authorities searched Fredriksson's Danville home and found items that supported the charge against him, police said.
Investigators found that Fredriksson provided more than one pound of marijuana to a confidential informant -- a woman with whom he had a personal relationship -- for her to sell, Spagnoli said. The police department is investigating whether his relationship with the informant was improper. Authorities also are investigating whether the marijuana given to the informant once was evidence or if it might have been taken from the police department's lab. "We're working to find out where the marijuana was obtained," Spagnoli said.
The department also has launched an ongoing internal investigation into the felony charge filed against Fredriksson. Since March 21, he has been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation, Spagnoli said. His wife, Sheryll Fredriksson, is a San Leandro police employee and a previous winner of the department's Dispatcher of the Year award. She has not been charged, but she has been placed on administrative leave until the internal investigation is completed, Spagnoli said. San Leandro police said they could not comment on the internal investigation while it is ongoing.
Jason Fredriksson, a graduate of San Ramon Valley High School, has been a San Leandro officer for nine years. From 2000 to 2002, he was an Alameda County sheriff's deputy, which included a work assignment at the Glenn E. Dyer jail in Oakland, sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said.
Fredriksson's case somewhat mirrors corruption charges filed recently against several narcotics officers in the now-suspended Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, or CNET. Authorities said Friday that they have no evidence connecting Fredriksson to that criminal probe. "We believe that Detective Fredriksson was acting alone and not with anyone with the San Leandro Police Department or with any police agency, local or federal," Spagnoli said.
Fredriksson's attorney, who is also representing San Ramon police Officer Louis Lombardi, a former CNET officer arrested May 4, 2011 on suspicion of a number of offenses, including stealing guns, selling drugs and embezzlement. Phone and email messages left for this attorney on Friday were not returned.
'CoCo Pimps & Panders!'
Posted: 05/13/2011 19:33:22 PDT
Updated: 05/14/2011 11:38:11 PDT
PLEASANT HILL, CA -- The former commander of a law enforcement task force in Contra Costa County robbed prostitutes whose operations were competing with his own brothel in Pleasant Hill, his co-defendant in a drug theft case told investigators. The former commander, ex-state Department of Justice agent Norman Wielsch, said prostitutes and drug dealers deserved to have their money stolen, said Christopher Butler, a private eye in Concord and Wielsch's former colleague on the Antioch police force. In a 34-page narrative that he wrote for investigators detailing his alleged criminal exploits and obtained by media sources, Butler also said a woman accused of prostitution had told him that she had sex with Wielsch in exchange for having charges against her reduced.
Posted: 05/04/2011 04:06:22 PM PDT Updated: 05/06/2011 11:38:11 AM PDT SAN RAMON, CA -- A San Ramon police officer was arrested Wednesday on five felony charges in connection with the ongoing investigation into the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team. Patrol Officer Louis Lombardi, 38, was arrested by his colleagues as he arrived at work Wednesday morning, CNET board chairman and San Ramon police Chief Scott Holder said. "I've known him for many years and it's a sad day for all of us, but we are going to get through this," Holder said. Lombardi was arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting, conspiracy, grand theft, possession of stolen property, and possession of an illegal assault rifle. A search warrant was executed Wednesday at Lombardi's Discovery Bay home. He said Lombardi's bail has been set at $760,000. Lombardi was still at County Jail in Martinez on Wednesday night, according to a jail worker. Holder would not provide other details concerning the arrest, citing the investigation. He has been a San Ramon officer since the city formed its Police Department in 2007, and before that Lombardi had been a sheriff's deputy since 1998.
'CoCo DIRT & DUI's!'
May 4, 2011 (Chris Butler, pictured above, center) A Concord private eye at the center of a Contra Costa County law enforcement scandal admitted that he hired female decoys to drink with men he was targeting in stings that led to their drunken-driving arrests, according to a transcript of his interview with detectives. Chris Butler, 49, a former Antioch police officer, made the statements during a nine-hour interrogation with detectives from the Contra Costa County district attorney's office and state Department of Justice. Authorities arrested Butler on Feb. 16, 2011 as part of an investigation into Norman Wielsch, a former commander of a state anti-narcotics unit who allegedly stole confiscated drugs from evidence lockers and passed them on to Butler, a close friend. He also told the detectives that clients had been referred to him by a San Ramon attorney who represented women in divorce cases - women who wanted videotaped evidence that their husbands were cheating. Although he directed the decoys to drink with the men at bars, Butler said he had never promised clients that the night would end with a DUI arrest. "It all centered around the introduction of the decoy to the subject," Christopher Butler said, according to a partial transcript of the March 17 interview obtained by media sources. "It had to be what I referred to as seamless. ... And it shows that, yeah, I was very careful in how these things went down. No one just plowed into a bar, called the guy and said, 'Hey, meet me at this bar and let's go drinking.' " "As I would tell all my clients ... if he's in the bar and he drinks, he's going to drink, I said, I will always say that there's no guarantee he's going to drive," Butler told detectives. "You know, he can call a cab, he can call a friend." In one instance, a disgruntled wife paid him $2,500 to "obtain irrefutable proof" that her husband "was actively seeking other women," Butler said in a statement he gave to investigators. In all, prosecutors suspect Butler orchestrated stings that led to the arrests of at least five Bay Area men. According to Butler's written statement, one "successful sting resulting in a DUI" was set in motion Dec. 3, 2008, when Susan Dutcher, a Brentwood elementary school teacher, walked into his Concord office and paid him a $2,500 retainer. Butler said Dutcher was the second referral he had received from Mary Nolan, a San Ramon divorce attorney. Husband given transcript Hal Jewett, Contra Costa's senior deputy district attorney, provided the statement and interrogation transcript to the woman's former husband last month and told him in a cover letter that he considered the man's drunken-driving arrest "one of the most deplorable legal practices I have ever heard of." Butler's attorney said the transcript and the private eye's one-page written statement that outlined the man's 2008 sting was not an admission of guilt. "It was not criminal conduct," he said. "Now, is it an unseemly kind of investigation process? I think the answer is 'yes.' And I think Mr. Butler is aware of that now." Connections probed (Stephen Tanabe, pictured above, center) As the investigation has progressed, Butler's tactics and his connections to Bay Area law enforcement officers have also come under scrutiny. On April 21, Butler pleaded not guilty to charges that he bribed a Contra Costa deputy sheriff, Stephen Tanabe, 47, to arrange the November drunken-driving arrest of a man outside a Danville bar. Tanabe, a friend of Butler's, denied the bribe allegations and also pleaded not guilty to felony charges that he had conspired to falsely arrest two additional men at Butler's request. A reserve sheriff's deputy told investigators that Tanabe nicknamed the practice a "dirty DUI" - an arranged arrest designed to give the target a criminal record as he was embroiled in divorce or child-custody proceedings. Butler told investigators that women hired him to obtain evidence of their husbands' infidelity. He said he produced that evidence by enlisting decoys to approach the men through online dating sites and seemingly random public encounters. A 'successful sting' In the first referral, Butler said he was "contracted" by Nolan to conduct a July 2007 sting on Declan Woods, 46, a contractor in Clayton who was in the midst of divorcing one of Nolan's clients. Butler said he had been paid $1,500 - although he did not make it clear if he was paid by Nolan or Woods' ex-wife - to hire two female decoys to approach Woods and drink with him at his local bar. Butler told investigators he paid the female decoys $25 an hour with a four-hour minimum for their work. After the decoys suggested Woods follow them home to Walnut Creek for more partying, Butler called Clayton police dispatch and gave a description of Woods' truck, which resulted in Woods' DUI arrest. Butler said he had videotaped Woods being handcuffed and put into a squad car, and that Nolan was "thrilled" with the visual evidence. Nolan did not respond to e-mail and phone messages. The setup The sting of Susan Dutcher's estranged husband, David Dutcher, proceeded in much the same fashion, Butler told detectives. He said he had hired a blond decoy to contact the Lockheed Martin engineer through match.com. The woman made a date to meet Dutcher, then 46, at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Concord and invited a second blond decoy to join them, Butler said. "I didn't know if he was going to be attracted" to the first decoy, Butler said. "Maybe he wouldn't be attracted to them at all. I had no idea." Butler told investigators he had sat at a nearby table and recorded the three drinking alcohol, which the first decoy paid for. As the 10 p.m. closing time neared, Butler said, one of his decoys alerted him that Dutcher wanted to drink at another bar. Butler said he had called a friend on the Concord police force, Officer Don Lawson. According to Butler's website, Lawson worked as his investigation firm's identity theft expert, and the two men grew up together. "I said, 'We got a case here where, you know, this guy, we're watching him at the bar and I think he's over the limit. ... Where are you?' " Butler told investigators. Lawson replied that he was about to go off-duty, but agreed not to after Butler told him, " 'Wait five, 10 minutes for me, please, because I think this guy is going to drive,' " Butler told the detectives. The arrest Lawson arrested Dutcher less than 2 miles away for DUI as Dutcher followed the convertible carrying the two blond decoys. In his police report on the arrest, Lawson did not say Butler or anyone else had alerted him to a drunken driver on the road. Instead, Lawson wrote that he had seen Dutcher's truck at a stoplight on Clayton Road, then pulled it over after the driver broke the speed limit. Investigators asked Butler whether he had paid Lawson, Concord's two-time Officer of the Year, to make the arrest. "No, (Lawson) was not compensated," Butler replied. "I swear to God. I'll get on a polygraph. He was not compensated for that." Lawson, who retired in 2009, did not respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment. Back to court David Dutcher said he plans to submit the interview transcript and Butler's statement to a divorce court judge as proof that he unfairly lost custody of his three children because of his drunken-driving conviction. His former wife did not respond to requests for an interview. Dutcher said he had always held suspicions about the events that led to his arrest, but that reading Butler's statements had made him sick. "You learn your wife paid for this kind of stuff and that her attorney was in on it?" Dutcher said. "And I lost my kids over it? Guess they were all laughing at me for a long time. ... Wonder how they feel now."
Jul 30, 2009 After a Hollywood [Florida] police officer rear-ended a car in February and then arrested the driver on drunken driving charges, he and other officers talked about doctoring the report--it said a jumpy cat created a distraction--to cover up the crash. The exchange was recorded by a dashboard camera in one of the patrol cars. The officers apparently didn't realize it was on. Alexandra Gabriela Torrensvilas, 23, of Hollywood, ended up charged with four counts of drunken driving and cited for improper lane change. "I don't want to make things up ever, because it's wrong, but if I need to bend it a little bit to protect a cop, I'm gonna," one of the officers can be heard saying.
'Hollywood DIRTY DUI's!'
May 10, 2011 For the second day in a row, a former Philadelphia police officer was sentenced to prison for a scheme to steal and resell heroin. Robert Snyder, 30 (pictured left) who became a police officer in March, 2007, will serve 13 years in prison. He was one of three officers arrested last year in connection with the heroin plot. He was also charged and pleaded guilty to his role in plotting a planned armed robbery. Snyder also admitted to plotting to rob a supposed Mafia cash courier. His wife, Christal, will be sentenced Monday for her role in organizing the scheme with her sister's boyfriend, Angel Ortiz, a drug dealer. She faces a 10 year sentence. Ortiz will be sentenced this week. Both have pleaded guilty. More than a dozen friends and family were in court, and Christal Snyder bowed her head as her husband spoke. Snyder sobbed in the courtroom as he expressed remorse and regret that the couple's three children will be without their parents for 10 years. Who will care for the children, - ages 11, 7 and 3 - was not discussed in court. Defense attorneys argued for a 10-year sentence, but U.S. District Court Chief Judge Harvey Bartle III cited Snyder's betrayal of his oath as a police officer. Snyder, who was left by his mother when he was 17 - she moved back to Kentucky to remarry - worked five years as a custodian at a downtown office building before becoming an officer. "He was making significantly more money," Spade wrote in a sentencing memo. "By his own admission, Mr. Snyder did not need the relatively small amount of money he received as payment for his crimes." Monday, 10-year veteran James Venziale was sentenced to 42 months in jail for his role in the scheme. Both men had pleaded guilty. The third officer, Mark Williams, was convicted at trial and has not yet been sentenced. July 13, 2010 Three Philadelphia police officers have been charged with planning the theft of 300 grams of heroin from an alleged drug supplier and then selling it to another person they believed to be a drug dealer and money launderer who, in actuality, was a DEA special agent. "I'm personally pissed off about this kind of behavior," Mayor Nutter said at a news conference at police headquarters this afternoon. "We do not employ criminals. That's what they are. That's how they will be treated." Robert Snyder, 30, of the 25th Police District; Mark Williams, 27 (pictured left) and James Venziale, 32, both of the 39th District, were charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin and related counts, U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger announced today. The scheme was hatched in April 20, when Venziale met with reputed drug dealer Angel "Fat Boy" Ortiz near the North Philadelphia Amtrak station, according to the indictment. Venziale and Ortiz discussed a plan to steal, with the illegal assistance of Philadelphia police officers, 300 grams of heroin from Miguel Santiago, the indictment states. According to the indictment, the officers and fellow conspirators believed the heroin they stole from Santiago would be sold for further distribution to the undercover agent, who they believed to be a drug dealer and money launderer. The officers met at various times during the next weeks with Ortiz and another reputed drug dealer, Zachary Young. The plan called for officers to perform a staged vehicle stop to make it appear to Santiago that the drugs were seized by law enforcement, the indictment states On May 14, Williams and Venziale (pictured left) were on duty and in uniform when they stopped a car occupied by Ortiz and the undercover agent. A courier working for Santiago, who had just delivered 299 grams of heroin to Ortiz, was nearby and watching, the indictment states. Williams and Venziale handcuffed Ortiz and allowed the other man to drive off with 299 grams of heroin. Williams and Venziale then drove Ortiz in their cruiser to Broad and Lehigh where they released him, the indictment states. Later, Ortiz met with Williams and Venziale near Broad St. and Hunting Park Ave. where Ortiz paid the officers $6,000, the indictment states. Ortiz also met with Christal Snyder and gave her an unknown amount of cash, the indictment states.
May 6, 2011 A Bullitt County corrections officer has been suspended without pay following his Thursday morning arrest in Shively. Eric Risen, 26, of Brooks, was charged with four counts of trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and disregarding a traffic signal, Shively police said. He was released on his own recognizance and will be arraigned in court early next week, according to jail records. Shively Police Detective Josh Myers said an officer stopped Risen (pictured above, center) after he allegedly ran a red light at Dixie Highway and Garrs Lane about 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Risen “seemed extremely nervous and agitated” and asked the arresting officer to “cut him a break because he was a Bullitt County corrections officer,” Myers said, citing the arrest report. After questioning and a subsequent search of the vehicle, police found 28 hydrocodone pills, 28½ oxymorphone pills, six doses of anabolic steroids, three syringes, three needles, a gun and ammunition, Myers said. Bullitt County’s chief deputy jailer Robert Etherton said Risen was hired as a part-time officer on Jan. 28 and was still in his probationary period, which he said means Risen could be fired even if the charges were dropped.
Bite the Bullitt!
April 21, 2011 He was the top cop in Sullivan City, Texas – entrusted with, among other things, going after drug traffickers and keeping his community safe from them. But as it turned out, the police chief who was supposed to be protecting his community was protecting drug traffickers, according to U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. The former police chief, Hernan Guerra, 44, of Mission, Texas, has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison without parole for drug trafficking, Moreno said. Guerra was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 2,200 lbs. of marijuana earlier this year after pleading guilty. According to the press release about the case, Guerra admitted that as police chief, he helped drug traffickers commit their crimes by leaking to them information about where U.S. Border Patrol units would be located, and by dispatching his officers away from where the traffickers would be transporting drugs. Guerra received money from the traffickers for the tips that helped them elude detection and arrest. DEA says“In determining the sentence he ultimately handed down,” the press release said, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane “considered and commented upon Guerra's abuse of his position of trust as the police chief for Sullivan City noting that his conduct undermined the community's faith in law enforcement.” Moreno added: "We agree Guerra's abuse of his position undermines the community's faith in law enforcement. However, we trust this investigation and prosecution serves as a significant step toward restoring that faith." Seven other men pled guilty in connection with the trafficking case and received jail sentences ranging from 30 months to about five years. One defendant is from Mexico, the other six are from Sullivan City. They range in age from 18 to 41 years old.
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