OAKLAND, Calif. -- Federal prosecutors have filed nine felony and misdemeanor charges against a former San Ramon police officer and Contra Costa sheriff's deputy accused of selling drugs and stealing from police seizures in the ongoing Central Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team corruption probe.
Louis Lombardi pleaded not guilty to the charges before a federal judge in Oakland on Tuesday. However, Lombardi's attorney Dirk Manoukian said that he is ironing out a deal with prosecutors and that Lombardi will plead guilty in the near future.
The felony charges, filed Monday, allege that the 39-year-old Discovery Bay resident conspired with former CNET commander Norman Wielsch and former private investigator Christopher Butler to launch a marijuana grow operation, and sold marijuana and methamphetamine.
The misdemeanor charges alleged Lombardi stole cash, jewelry and drugs from individuals during police searches and seizures. The crimes charged date back to 2008, when Lombardi was a CNET agent, through late 2010 when he was a San Ramon police officer.
CNET, a state Department of Justice program, was suspended indefinitely after Wielsch and Butler's arrests sparked the scandal in February.
All three men charged in the federal case have been cooperating with prosecutors, Manoukian said, indicating that they are angling to take a plea deal rather than go to trial and risk the most severe sentences their respective charges carry. Lombardi's charges call for about 60 years in prison and more than $2 million in fines.
"I quite frankly believe that it's unlikely that anyone will go to trial in this case," Manoukian said. "There's been some finger pointing back and forth, but Butler, Wielsch and Lombardi have all given extensive statements admitting criminal conduct. It's highly unlikely, in my opinion, if it would be in any defendant's interest to take this case to trial."
No federal charges have been filed yet against Stephen Tanabe, the former officer who was charged with the other men as part of a 38-count complaint lodged by the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office before the case was passed on to federal authorities.
Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley .
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