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'Dirty DUIs' private investigator gets 8 years

The Huffington Post,
BYLINE: The Associated Press
Link to Article

Oakland, CA

OAKLAND, Calif. — A disgraced former California police officer involved in the sensational "Dirty DUIs" scandal in which he acknowledged stealing drugs from law enforcement and setting up men for drunken driving arrests was sentenced to eight years in federal prison.

Christopher Butler was sentenced Tuesday after he pleaded guilty in May to robbery, conspiracy and extortion as part of a plea deal.

The 51-year-old former Antioch police officer-turned-private investigator also was at the center of the drug task force scandal in Contra Costa County.

Butler and Norman Wielsch, former head of the now-defunct Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team, were indicted last year on charges of stealing marijuana and methamphetamine from evidence lockers to sell.

Funded by the Department of Justice and overseen by officers from Contra Costa County police agencies, the narcotics team was suspended in February 2011 after Wielsch and Butler were arrested for investigation of selling stolen drug evidence.

As a private investigator, Butler also acknowledged setting up so-called "dirty DUIs" for wives in divorce cases. The scheme involved hiring attractive women to lure the husbands into cheating and drunken driving. Butler orchestrated the arrests after he was hired by ex-wives, prosecutors said.

At the time, Butler was also trying to land a cable reality show, "P.I. Moms of San Francisco," that featured a crew of female detectives tracking down and videotaping cheating husbands.

During sentencing, Butler choked with emotions as he read a statement.

"I want to apologize to the community for the anxiety, fear and suffering I have caused others," he said.

His defense lawyer, William Gagen, said Butler's ego overpowered good judgment.

Attorney Brian Gearinger, who represents three men suing Butler in federal court, said the prosecution "couldn't have happened to a nicer scumbag."

The men allege that Butler orchestrated their drunken-driving arrests after their ex-wives hired him.

Wielsch, 51, who was indicted last year, has pleaded not guilty to similar charges and is scheduled to go to trial in January.

As part of his plea deal, Butler will testify against Wielsch, if necessary, Gagen said.

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