SAN FRANCISCO -- A former private investigator and officer at the center of Contra Costa County's police corruption probe pleaded not guilty Friday to 13 felony counts from a federal grand jury indictment that alleges conspiracy, drug sales, theft, extortion and civil rights violations.
Concord resident Christopher Butler, 50, entered his plea dressed in red-and-pink-striped jail garb. He was expected to be released from a federal jail on $1 million bail later Friday, after his father wires the government $500,000 cash and a $500,000 property bond. He was taken into custody Monday on the indictment that calls for multiple life prison sentences and upward of $40 million in fines.
"It's serious and we know we have to deal with it," defense attorney William Gagen said as he left court with Butler's family, several of whom were visibly upset.
Butler is already out on $900,000 bail in Contra Costa County, whose prosecutors earlier this year were the first to charge him and former Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team commander Norman Wielsch with conspiring to sell stolen drug evidence and other crimes. Wielsch, a 50-year-old Antioch resident, was indicted federally with Butler and is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Monday.
No federal indictments have been handed down for two former police officers also charged as part of the scandal -- Stephen Tanabe and Louis Lombardi -- though sources close to the investigation say they remain the subject of the federal probe.
The magistrate judge on Friday laid out numerous conditions for Butler's release, including that he maintain employment. Gagen said that Butler has been working for his brother and is attending a local college to finish credits toward a degree.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.