Drunk Driving News

"Prison taught him the false smile, the rubbed hand of hypocrisy, the fawning, greased obsequious leer".

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two dirty DUI victims testify at trial of arresting officer

Two victims of so-called "dirty DUI" arrests testified at the trial of the arresting officer in federal court in San Francisco Tuesday that they were plied with wine at a Danville bar on the night of the incidents.

"He kept ordering flights of wine," said witness Mitchell Katz, referring to a man he knew only as "Benny," who was present at a 2011 meeting at The Vine, a wine-tasting bar, that was supposedly for the purpose of discussing a future television program.

Katz, the owner of a Livermore winery, and Verizon technology strategist Hasan Aksu, of Martinez, were called to the stand by prosecutors
at the trial of former Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff Stephen Tanabe.

Tanabe, 50, of Alamo, is facing federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and extortion for his alleged role in the drunken driving arrests of Katz, Aksu and a third man in late 2010 and early 2011.

Prosecutors allege the arrests were part of a scheme by former private investigator Christopher Butler to get husbands in divorce cases drunk and then arrested for driving under the influence.

The men were husbands or ex-husbands of female clients of Butler's who were seeking to gain an advantage in divorce or custody disputes. The
arrests were dubbed dirty DUIs.

Butler, who is expected to be a key prosecution witness against Tanabe, pleaded guilty last year to an array of charges including drug offenses, conspiracy and civil rights violations. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

He and former Central Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team Commander Norman Wielsch were chief figures in a police corruption
scandal that included their sale of drugs Wielsch stole from CNET evidence lockers, phony arrests, extortion and Butler's orchestration of dirty DUI
arrests and wiretapping of clients' husbands' cars.

Tanabe is accused only in connection with three DUI arrests.

He faces one count of conspiracy to deprive others of his honest services; three counts of wire fraud related to text messages he and Butler
exchanged before the arrests; and three counts of extortion for allegedly receiving cocaine and a Glock gun from Butler in payment.

His trial in the court of U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer began Monday and is expected to last about two weeks.

Defense attorney Tim Pori told the jury during his opening statement Monday that the arrests were within Tanabe's duties and there was no proof he received cocaine and a gun in payment.

Tanabe, assigned to work as a Danville police officer, arrested Katz as he drove away from the bar on Jan. 14, 2011. Tanabe arrested Aksu on Jan. 9.

He asked another officer to arrest Lane Bauldry outside a different Danville bar on Nov. 2, 2010, because Tanabe was off duty that night, according to prosecutors.

On the stand, Katz and Aksu gave similar accounts of how they were allegedly enticed to drink at the bar.

Aksu said a man who used the name John Brownell invited him to come to the bar for an interview for a magazine article about successful European-born businessmen in the East Bay.

Katz said "John Brownell" told him he was a producer for the A&E Network who wanted to talk about a possible television program comparing
Livermore and Napa wineries.

The man turned out to be Carl Marino, an actor who was a top Butler aide.

Both men were told that the meeting had to be at the Danville bar and had to be on a weekend evening. Both said attractive women later joined
them at their table.

Both said that either "John" or the man known as "Benny" ordered them several flights of wine, with each flight made up of three one-ounce glasses of different wines for tasting.

Katz said that after being arrested, handcuffed and taken to the Danville police station, he began to suspect he was the victim of a scheme
and voiced his suspicions to an officer there.

"I told him I felt it was set up," Katz said.

Butler and Wielsch were arrested a month later, and DUI charges against Katz and Aksu were never pursued.

The trial resumes in Breyer's Federal Building courtroom on Thursday after a one-day break.


CCN reporter arrested on DUI charge for .06 blood alcohol level

CalCoastNews reporter and co-founder Karen Velie was taken into custody on Aug. 13 after a San Luis Obispo police officer arrested her on suspicion of driving under the influence. Officer Josh Walsh placed Velie under arrest after her blood alcohol test showed a .06. California’s drunk driving laws require an arrest if a driver has a .08 alcohol level.
The arrest comes during CalCoastNews investigations into activities at CAPSLO, the county’s nonprofit that serves homeless persons as well as wrongdoing over the handling of hazardous wastes.
Walsh said at the time of the arrest that he would have arrested her even if she had a blood alcohol level of as little as .01, Velie said. California law prohibits driving while intoxicated no matter what the blood alcohol level.
At the time of the arrest, Velie had just finished teaching a bridge class at a San Luis Obispo restaurant.
Twenty-four people attended the class, several of whom saw Velie minutes before the traffic stop. After the arrest, Velie spoke to the majority of the class members, all of whom said she was clearly not intoxicated.
“I only saw her have one glass of wine and she looked fine,” said San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins. “She did not appear to be under the influence at all.”https://calcoastnews.com/2013/08/ccn-reporter-arrested-on-dui-charge-foe-blood-alcohol-level/

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