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Another Sentencing in “Dirty DUI” Cases

Beer and Handcuffs

“Dirty DUI” cases. Between November 2010 and January 2011, three men were arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol in Danville, CA after leaving local wineries or bars. On the surface, these arrests would seem like any other DUI arrests. However, with additional investigation, federal officials discovered there was much more to the stories, which soon became known as the Bay Area’s “dirty DUI” cases.

True story behind the “Dirty DUI” arrests

In reality, a complicated scheme was behind the DUI arrests. San Francisco divorce attorney Mary Nolan had heard from some of her female clients that their ex-husbands were prone to drink. Presumably in order to get an edge in divorce and custody cases, Nolan hired private investigator Christopher Butler to help her set up the men. Butler then struck a deal with ex-Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy Stephen Tanabe, and the two set up a sting operation to frame the men for DUI.

According to two of the victims’ testimony at Tanabe’s trial, they were tricked into meetings at bars or wine-tasting bars, expecting business meetings. Instead, they unknowingly met with employees of P.I. Butler, who ordered multiple rounds of alcohol and encouraged the men to drink up. When the men headed for their cars to go home, Butler notified Tanabe, who then stopped and arrested them for DUI.

Last year, Butler, a former police officer, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. In addition to the dirty DUIs, Butler was also sentenced for charges involving drug dealing and operating an underground brothel. As part of his plea agreement, Butler agreed to testify against Tanabe at his trial later in 2013. A jury ultimately found Tanabe guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud, and extortion. The wire fraud charges occurred because of text messages sent between Tanabe and Butler regarding the drunk drivers. The extortion charges stemmed from Tanabe’s acceptance of a $600 weapon in exchange for his part in the scheme. Tanabe faced up to 20 years in federal prison for these charges.

The most recent sentencing occurred on February 3, 2014. Nolan, the 62-year-old divorce attorney, who possibly originated the entire scheme, received a sentence of two years in prison. Her charges specifically involved illegally installing listening devices on the ex-spouses vehicles and listening to their conversations. She wanted them to be arrested for DUI in order to destroy their credibility in their divorce and/or child custody cases.

DUI arrests can already be tenuous without police, investigators, and attorneys colluding to frame people and design sting operations. If any of the consequences surrounding your DUI seem suspicious, make sure you take note and inform your attorney about them. If you are arrested for DUI in Sonoma County, Lake County, or Mendocino County, always contact an experienced DUI attorney in the area to help you before you speak to the police. An attorney will know how to identify suspicious or seemingly wrong circumstances surrounding your arrest, and use them to your advantage in defending your case. Do not hesitate to contact Beck Law, P.C. for assistance as soon as possible.

Photo Credit: cplong11 via Compfight cc

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