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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Ex-Cop Enters Guilty Plea To 9 Felonies
Title:US CA: Ex-Cop Enters Guilty Plea To 9 Felonies
Published On:2012-01-27
Source:San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Fetched On:2012-01-28 06:04:00

A former San Ramon police officer who was also a member of an
antidrug unit in Contra Costa County pleaded guilty Thursday to
charges that he sold drugs with his commanding officer, stole jewelry
and cash from crime scenes and possessed stolen guns.

Louis Lombardi, 39, also admitted that during a four-year period, he
had pocketed at least $40,000 in cash from alleged drug dealers and
prostitutes while serving search warrants.

Lombardi was taken into custody in federal court in Oakland after
admitting to nine felony counts of possession and intent to sell
drugs, possession of stolen firearms, conspiracy to maintain a
drug-involved premise and deprivation of rights under color of law.
He faces a maximum sentence of more than 60 years in federal prison.

In exchange for his admission and possible testimony against his
former boss at the Contra Costa antinarcotics task force, Lombardi
hopes a judge will show leniency when he is sentenced April 18, his
attorney said.

"He's ready to move forward in his life," attorney Dirk Manoukian
said. "To do that, he has to pay the piper."

Four arrests

Lombardi was arrested in May as part of a law enforcement scandal
that has led to federal indictments of his former commander, ex-state
Justice Department agent Norman Wielsch, as well as Concord private
investigator Christopher Butler and Stephen Tanabe, a former Contra
Costa County deputy sheriff. All three have pleaded not guilty.

In addition to his four years on the San Ramon Police Department,
Lombardi worked off and on from 2005 to 2009 as Wielsch's
second-in-command on the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement
Team, a now-dismantled squad of law enforcement officers from
agencies in the county.

During Thursday's hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hartley West read
a list of Lombardi's alleged crimes, including the theft of $40,000
during his time on the antidrug team.

Lombardi, who also spoke at the hour-long hearing, read from a
prepared plea agreement that outlined his transgressions.

Dealing pot

The defendant, who spoke so softly that U.S. District Judge Saundra
Brown Armstrong asked him to speak up and use the microphone, said
Wielsch gave him half a pound of marijuana about two years ago, which
he sold to a confidential informant in Arizona. Lombardi said he had
split the proceeds with Wielsch.

Lombardi also said that in 2010, he and Wielsch took two ounces of
methamphetamine from a confidential informant, then forced the
informant to buy the drugs back from them.

Michael Cardoza, Wielsch's attorney, declined to respond to
Lombardi's specific allegations, but said his client had already
admitted to his role in the conspiracy.

Cardoza added, however, that Wielsch was "not guilty of all the
things they've charged him with," and said he expected him to go to
trial rather than plead guilty.

A trial would set up a cross-examination of Lombardi if he testifies.

"If he doesn't tell the truth, we will take him head-on," Cardoza said.

Stole whiskey

In addition to the crimes that allegedly involved Wielsch, Lombardi
admitted Thursday to stealing items during searches of suspects'
property, including jewelry, a bottle of whiskey and a pair of sunglasses.

Lombardi has also leveled accusations against Butler, the private
detective who faces separate charges that he engineered
drunken-driving arrests of men whose estranged wives had hired him in
divorce or child custody cases.

Lombardi said Butler had given him a stolen pistol in exchange for
surveillance work. After he learned of Butler's February arrest for
allegedly participating with Wielsch in stealing drugs from police
evidence lockers, Lombardi said, he tossed the gun into the delta.

After the hearing, Manoukian said he had no explanation for what had
led Lombardi to the wrong side of the law. He noted, however, that
all the defendants in the scandal had often found themselves in
tempting situations.

"Lou was in a place in his life where he was not strong enough to
pass up those temptations," Manoukian said.
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