'Dirty DUI' deputy gets 15-month sentence

Alamo resident Stephen Tanabe convicted in scheme to trap men in Danville DUI arrests

A former Contra Costa County Sheriff's deputy was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on Wednesday as part of the "Dirty DUI" case.

On Sept 3, a jury convicted Stephen Tanabe, 50, of six federal counts: two counts of extortion under color of official right (that is, while acting as a deputy), three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. The Alamo resident was acquitted on one extortion count.

"This sentence reflects the serious nature of Stephen Tanabe's criminal conduct -- taking bribes in exchange for setting up unsuspecting citizens and abusing the public's trust in law enforcement," said United States Attorney Melinda Haag.

Tanabe was originally indicted on Dec. 15, 2011 as part of the bust that sent the head of the Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team to prison along with a local attorney and a private investigator.

Evidence showed Tanabe conspired and engaged in a scheme to take bribes in exchange for his services as a deputy, depriving Contra Costa County residents of their right to his honest services.

Specifically, evidence showed that Christopher Butler, a former Antioch police officer turned private investigator, was hired by wives and ex-wives engaged in divorce and child custody proceedings to arrange "stings" against their spouses, whom they told Butler had a propensity to drive under the influence of alcohol.

Butler used attractive female decoys to lure sting targets to bars in downtown Danville, where Tanabe was assigned to patrol. The decoys would encourage the men to drink and then drive while intoxicated.

In one sting, Tanabe joined Butler in a bar while off-duty, watching two attractive young women working for Butler drink with a sting target. Prosecutors allege evidence showed that, in exchange for a promise of cocaine, Tanabe notified an on-duty deputy that the sting target was about to drive away, having been lured by the prospect of a hot tub with the two women.

For two other stings, the evidence showed that Tanabe, on-duty, waited outside the Vine Bar in Danville and arrested the targets. He received a Glock handgun in exchange for his participation in those stings.

Tanabe's sentence also includes 240 hours of community service, a three-year period of supervised release, as well as forfeiture of the Glock handgun he obtained in connection with two of the arrests.

Tanabe was ordered to surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service on April 15.

Earlier this month, Mary Nolan, 62, a San Ramon family law attorney specializing in divorce cases, was sentenced to two years in federal prison in connection with the "dirty DUI" cases.

Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team Commander Norman Wielsch was sentenced last year to 14 years in federal prison for stealing drug evidence, robbing prostitutes and making phony arrests.

Butler received an eight-year sentence in 2012 for seven felony counts including dealing drugs, framing men for DUI arrests and opening a brothel in Pleasant Hill that masqueraded as a massage parlor.


Like this comment
Posted by Woody
a resident of Danville
on Feb 20, 2014 at 7:05 pm

That sentence seems like its about 10 years to short in light of the misery he caused members of the community. I can only hope his new cellmate feels the same.

Like this comment
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Danville
on Feb 21, 2014 at 6:29 am

Hope this creep sleeps with his back to the wall in prison and the civil suits dog him to the grave.

Like this comment
Posted by Truedy
a resident of Danville
on Feb 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm

He did a public service, arresting drunks who could have killed innocent people. People in Danville have short memories when it comes to tragic accidents caused by impaired drivers, just on Sycamore Valley Road alone.

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