San Ramon attorney sentenced in 'dirty DUI' case

Admitted to tax evasion, unlawful interception of communications

A San Ramon family law attorney specializing in divorce cases has been sentenced to two years in federal prison as the latest in the so-called "dirty DUI" cases.

Mary Nolan, 62, pleaded guilty to one count of felony unlawful interception of communications and four counts of felony tax evasion, according to United States Attorney Melinda Haag.

Nolan admitted making her staff illegally intercept phone conversations by accessing a listening device that private investigator Christopher Butler had installed in a victim's vehicle. She also evaded more than $400,000 in federal taxes between 2005 and 2009, and admitted to obstructing justice by submitting false contracts to the IRS during an audit.

Senior United States District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer also included a three-year period of supervised release, 240 hours community service and $468,918.01 in restitution.

Nolan's was forced to resign from the state bar. She was ordered to surrender to the United States Marshals Service by March 6.

At the time of sentencing, Nolan had already paid the restitution and resigned her bar license.

The sentencing is the latest in a long list of those charged with federal and state crimes in the wake of the dirty DUI scandal in which Butler, a private investigator at the time, set up arrests of men in stings in Danville between November 2010 and January 2011.

The men, who were husbands of female clients in divorce and child-custody cases, were allegedly enticed to become intoxicated at Danville bars and then arrested for DUI.

The case led to lengthy sentences for a number of those involved, including several police officers, and resulted in the dismantling of the Central Contra Costa County Narcotic Enforcement Team.

Butler pleaded guilty to unlawful interception and several other offenses on May 4, 2012.

He admitted installing approximately 75 to 100 unlawful listening devices at the request of clients or their attorneys, including the listening device in the vehicle of Nolan's victim in August 2007.

Butler was sentenced to 60 months in prison on this charge, to be served concurrently with the 96-month sentence on his other counts.

"Attorneys and those trusted with the confidence of others are expected to uphold the law and pursue justice with integrity," said FBI special agent in charge David J. Johnson of the San Francisco Field Office. "The FBI will continue to partner with the U.S. Attorney's Office to expel those who abuse their professional licenses and take advantage of the criminal justice system."

IRS-Criminal Investigation special agent in charge José M. Martinez said Nolan's sentence shows no one is above the law.

"Ms. Nolan misused her position for personal gain while cheating the government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those who intentionally evade taxes should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable," Martinez said.

Nolan was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 6, 2012.


Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 5, 2014 at 8:42 am

Imagine that a crooked attorney. What is this world coming to?

Like this comment
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Danville
on Feb 5, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Think of all the lives this felon ruined. Many got screwed in their divorces because of her dirty tactics. If she has any money left I hope the civil suits overwhelm her.

Like this comment
Posted by Wasnotwas
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2014 at 11:02 pm

And she will never be able to practice the law, uh I mean the "racket" ever again.

I agree Bill. The profession, known as the "racket," reminds me of a great Bible verse:

Luke 11:46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Feb 6, 2014 at 9:17 am

Yeah, it's a shame how lawyers force their clients to go along with unethical practices. Think of all those poor clients, saying: "No, no! only want you to use ethical, above-board tactics, so that a result that is fair to my ex results!" And forcing the police and PI's to go along, too. Nothing bad ever would have happened if the lawyer hadn't made everyone else involved go along with her evil plans. I'm sure lots of potential clients recoiled in horror and went away to find a more ethical lawyer to hire once they found out what she was planning on doing, right?

Yeah - lawyers are the source of all evil.

Like this comment
Posted by Hexster
a resident of Danville
on Feb 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Luke 11:46

Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

Hey Huh? Um, might this warning be of importance to you?

Like this comment
Posted by Mike P.
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Feb 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Way to go Huh! Stick up for a convicted felon. That a boy! You must be a defense attorney? Ex-con?

Like this comment
Posted by Huh II
a resident of Danville
on Feb 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Just because Huh makes a good point, that lawyers' clients are all too often inclined to go along with their unfair or unethical schemes, is no reason to malign him. But just because lawyers are not the sole source of evil doesn't give them a free ride when they carry it out...I'm glad this one got caught!

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Feb 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I absolutely agree that this lawyer should be jailed and disbarred. No issue with that at all. But the idea that the lawyers are the source of all this bad conduct? I suggest you ask some lawyer about how many times he or she has refused to take some action a client wanted just to "get" someone they were mad at, or to apply pressure unethically.

Oh, there are lawyers who will do it.

But there are 100 crooked would-be clients for every crooked lawyer, and 100 times a lawyer says: "Nope, I won't do that for you" for every time one says: "Hey, how about we [insert unethical or illegal conduct here]."

I take exception to the previous posters' suggestion that lawyers are the ones who drag down the community's ethical standards. You have no idea what **clients** will try to get a lawyer to do. And yes, I've worked as a lawyer for many years and have turned down **many** would-be client's requests to do things that I didn't feel were appropriate and declined to pursue **many** cases that I felt were not meritorious. Those would-be clients didn't need any lawyers to help them think up frivolous claims or dream up less-than-ethical ways to try to pressure someone into doing what they wanted. Many times they expressed outrage that I wouldn't do it.

There's even a special legal procedure for dealing with "vexatious litigants" - people who abuse the legal system by filing baseless lawsuits without a lawyer, because none will work for them. Yes, there are unethical lawyers. In this case, there were unethical cops, PI's and clients, too. That's a reflection on our society, not the legal profession.

Hexter: I'm old, but I wasn't practicing in Jesus' day, so I can't comment on the standards of the profession in that jurisdiction at that time. I suspect the day-to-day activities of whatever passed for a lawyer back then had little similarity to what a public defender or immigration lawyer these days does. So without meaning disrespect to your religious beliefs, I don't think your comment has as much significance as you seem to feel that it does.

Like this comment
Posted by Derek
a resident of Blackhawk
on Feb 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Methinks Mooshelle Bammy and the clintons were disbarred once upon a time---this chick should go I to politics on the dem ticket!

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Danville
on Feb 9, 2014 at 10:27 am

Actually, "Derek" you don't "thinks" at all. You just parrot long-since debunked right wing internet myths and flaunt a disgusting lack of respect for the first lady, demonstrating a significant lack of simple courtesy which is sadly too common amongst your fellow right wing nut jobs.

So, Derek, in two lines of text you've managed to demonstrate that you are ignorant, gullible, and low class. Pretty impressive for a single sentence!

Like this comment
Posted by Derek
a resident of Danville
on Feb 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

It seems I have an evil right wing counterpart here Huh......
Easily identified because he (allegedly) lives in Blackhawk, and I wouldn't reside there if you stuck a knife in my groin.

Like this comment
Posted by Member
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Actually, the Victim, was NOT apart of the "Dirty DUI" scheme at all.... Media should be careful.... Defamation of character can be costly.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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