SAN FRANCISCO -- The federal government on Tuesday rested its case against an ex-Danville cop accused of accepting cocaine and a Glock pistol as payment for helping set up divorcing men for drunken-driving arrests.

An attorney for Stephen Tanabe, 50, of Alamo, said the former Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputy will announce Wednesday morning whether he is going to testify on his own behalf. If he does, he will be the only defense witness in the case in which Tanabe is charged with seven conspiracy and extortion counts for allegedly taking bribes from former Concord private investigator Christopher Butler, who's serving an eight-year sentence for a host of crimes that came to light after he and ex-Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team Commander Norman Wielsch were caught selling stolen drug evidence in February 2011.

Stephen Tanabe left, with his attorney Dan Russo, leaves Superior Court in Walnut Creek, Calif. Thursday April 21, 2011 after pleading not guilty on
Stephen Tanabe left, with his attorney Dan Russo, leaves Superior Court in Walnut Creek, Calif. Thursday April 21, 2011 after pleading not guilty on CNET-related charges. (Karl Mondon/Staff)

Butler spent his second day on the witness stand Tuesday being hammered by defense attorney Tim Pori's questions about whether he's being truthful about Tanabe taking bribes or whether Tanabe is just another cop that he set up to fall in the aftermath of his drug arrest in hopes of mitigating his own punishment.

"Isn't this something you fabricated along the way so you could get your deal?" said Pori, gesticulating wildly as he attempted for hours to get the unflappable Butler to say that he's lied about Tanabe's alleged criminal activity.

In what's become known as the "Dirty DUIs," Butler set up or attempted to set up a dozen men -- the estranged spouses of his Butler & Associates clients -- for drunken-driving arrests so they could be used as leverage in divorce and child custody cases. The targets were plied with alcohol by Butler employees, often attractive women deployed to seduce, and Butler would call police when the targets decided to drive.

Tanabe admits to participating in three of the stings in late 2010 and early 2012 but claims he was not compensated.

Butler testified that the only other Bay Area police officer he called directly to arrest one of his drunk drivers was Concord Officer Don Lawson, but the arrest was not prearranged with Lawson and the officer was not compensated. Finding it too stressful to go through police dispatch to get an officer to respond to a DUI tip in a timely manner, Butler said he started holding the stings in Danville, where he knew he could count on his old friend from the Antioch police force to participate.

"With Tanabe, I had control over the stop," Butler said.

Tanabe had done jobs for him over the years, Butler said, including pretending to be a cheating husband in fake stings to fool the media for the promotion of his business and ultimately failed reality TV show, "PI Moms." He said he wasn't surprised that Tanabe wanted to be compensated for the DUI arrests; he had always demanded payment for other work.

Why, Pori asked, if he paid Tanabe for the arrests, didn't he keep track of it on his clients' ledgers? Why had he been interviewed 10 times by investigators before he told them that Tanabe hooked him up with a cocaine dealer in 2001? Isn't he just setting up Tanabe like the people on whom he planted drugs? Isn't he the guy who tried to get a Richmond police lieutenant fired?

Butler's statements to the government were used to convict Wielsch, former San Ramon officer Louis Lombardi and former Richmond officers Danny Harris and Ray Thomas for various crimes over the past two years. Pori accused Butler of lying about Tanabe to get more time shaved off his sentence.

"You're lying to this jury right now, aren't you?" Pori said.

"That's not true," Butler replied.

Later in the day, the jury heard from Jordi Simms, a former Butler & Associates employee who ran a Pleasant Hill brothel in the form of a massage parlor for Butler and Wielsch before their arrests and acquired the cocaine that Butler allegedly used to pay Tanabe. She said she was ultimately fired by Butler for refusing to plant drugs on people and participate in his DUI stings.

She wasn't unhappy to leave; Simms said she was "very concerned" that Butler was going to set her up to get arrested in the same way she had seen him do to others.

The trial continues Wednesday.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.