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Head of County Narcotic Task Force and Concord Private Eye Jailed on Drug Charges

The investigation began in January after the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement received a report of allegations of misconduct by the drug task force chief.

The commander of a state Justice Department-led county drug task force and the owner of a Concord-based private investigations firm, nationally known for its "Mommy P.I.s," have been booked into county jail on suspicion of conspiring to sell drugs.  

Special agents from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement,  arrested Norman “Norm” Wielsch, a 12-year veteran of the bureau, Wednesday in Benicia. Wielsch was arrested on 22 felony counts. The charges are related to the distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana and steroids, bureau spokeswoman Michelle Gregory said. 

The arrest is the result of an investigation that began in January after the bureau became aware of allegations of misconduct by Wielsch. Agents with the bureau initiated a comprehensive undercover operation that culminated in the arrest of Wielsch and Christopher Butler, 49, of Concord.  Butler, owner of Butler & Associates, is believed to be a friend and an associate of Wielsch but has no connection to the Justice Department or the narcotic enforcement team that Wielsch led, Gregory said.

The Contra Costa Times reported that the suspected offenses include embezzlement, second-degree burglary and conspiracy.

Wielsch and Butler were booked into the Contra Costa County Jail. Wielsch's bail was set at $660,000, Butler's at $840,000. 

The investigation is continuing and there is no indication that other police personnel were involved, Gregory said. The bureau is precluded by law from discussing what it terms an administrative investigation, and will not comment further on the criminal investigation.

Wielsch heads the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team (CCCNET), which is made up of police officers from local departments, including Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Danville, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Clayton and the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office. The task force also includes representatives from the county Probation Department and the district attorney’s office.

The task force targets mid- to high-level drug dealers in central Contra Costa. Members are trained by the Justice Department, work undercover and are available to agencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Butler's firm calls itself a full-service private investigations firm, but its claim to  fame, in addition to spots on The Today Show and the Dr. Phil Show, is its "P.I. Mom" team. According to the Butler and Associate's website, these are "highly-trained female investigators" who "possess unique skill-sets that make them an invaluable asset to the many complex cases and undercover stings" that the firm routinely performs.

Butler, a licensed investigator, started working for the original owner of the firm, former FBI Special Agent Charles Latting, two years after the firm opened in 1996, the website says. At that time, the firm operated under the name Corporate Intelligence Resources and specialized in undercover corporate work and investigative research for corporations and businesses throughout California.  

Butler became owner in 2002. "While continuing to provide in-depth investigations and covert personnel for workplace problems, Butler & Associates also provides outstanding surveillance, security and undercover sting services to a vast array of clientele," the website says. Some clients included private citizens who wanted to know whether their significant others were cheating on them, as this NBC News segment, which you can view here, shows. 

Privacy Valued March 03, 2011 at 11:15 PM
I admit to a fair amount of under my breath laughter reading the stories of disbelief and shock written by other officers on this story. Give me a break. The reality of our justice system is if the prosecutor requires testimony to be presented in a certain way, be it blatantly untrue or seriously misrepresented fibs, that is what the court will hear from the officer. Cops lie on the stand on a daily basis. This is especially true in cases of reported officer misconduct or rights violations that are presented by the defense during any criminal prosecution. In my own experience, officers protect other officers, and that includes lying under oath. With that in mind, this guy must not have been very well liked in the circle of people whom investigated him.
Privacy Valued March 04, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Mr. Cortlund, I am sure that there are many different ways and situations in which officers feel compelled to lie. Whether it be dislike of the person or the covering of ones behind, etc. So a simple method of combating this problem will not be easy. However, in my own experience with this, a video and audio recording of all interactions with the various departments involved, would have shown all and would not have allowed any false testimony to be made. There are some programs I have read are being tested such as this, I believe San Jose Ca is one, where the recorders are worn by officers and are around the size of a typical bluetooth headset. If there was a general fixall for this problem, I believe this is it. I would typically refrain from going into detail about what happened to me, but, seeing as how you worked with various probation depts, perhaps you are the person that may be able to so something with my example. I would gladly email you details of what happened, but do not wish to do so on a public forum such as this. BTW, I do know and understand that there are some good cops out there, and judging from what you have written, you appear to be (or was) one of them. Unfortunately, it seems the good ones are becoming an exception rather than the norm. value_privacy@mailinator.com value_privacy@mailinator.com
Alex Cortlund March 05, 2011 at 05:06 AM
Some things, no matter how commonplace or prevalent they are seen or misconceived to be, shouldn't become laughing matters (under or over one's breath). To me, this is such a case. I have no idea what the basis of the sweeping cynical comments related to police corruption stem from, but I suspect that there is a large credibility gap therein. Its easy to sneer at "all" police officers and other criminal justice personnel, but criticism from an anonymous source has little practical value--this point of view is not productive in any meaningful way, and the subject of corruption in our criminal justice system is certainly not a laughing matter. If the author of these comments has substantial knowledge of what he claims, I'd like to hear more in the form of specifics and some ideas of what could or should be done to combat such evil doings.
t.bemis March 05, 2011 at 08:19 PM
I took the liberty of coping this comment from Claycord. This is comment I endorse and applaude--As was reported before by Only in CCC “why aren’t the Fed’s all over this”. San Francisco PD asked them to come in over the bogus search warrants today. CNET board thinks they can review and investigate their unit. Their total lack of stewardship speaks volumes on why Norm & Company got away with this for as long as they did. The Fed’s would look into claims by defendants that money, drugs, etc were taken or not reported, as well as a host of other issues. The DA should demand a Federal Investigation. If SFPD did it for illegal searches, I believe what Norm & Company did is much more insidious and a greater harm to the public. Does anyone out there “really” believe this all started 4 months ago? The kidnapping incident was in 2009. Drugs were taken then and not turned in. Wake up elected officials and top brass of police department’s who contributed officers and money to CNET. It took a Federal Judge to put the spotlight on a since retired Concord cop that he had a reckless disregard for the truth, and a major drug dealer walked out of court a free man. Prior to that, numerous complaints about that officer fell upon deaf ears. He was the Norman of his day
Martha Ross March 05, 2011 at 08:26 PM
T. Beamis: I was wondering the same thing myself when I heard about the FBI getting involved in investigating the SFPD for alleged illegal searches.

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