In July 2007, 43-year-old Declan Woods
, a Contra Costa County, California building contractor, went to the home of a woman to provide an estimate for some remodeling. As he was leaving the home, the woman asked where he was heading and he said he was going to Ed’s Mudville Grille in Clayton, California.
About 30 minutes after Woods arrived at the restaurant, the woman showed up with a female friend and asked to join him. Woods, who was in the middle of a contentious divorce proceeding, agreed.
After dinner and drinks, they went to the Clayton Club Saloon where Woods, at the urging of the woman, drank shots of hard alcohol. The woman became extremely flirtatious—crawling onto his lap and kissing him. After more rounds of drinks, Woods accepted the woman’s invitation to return to her home to go hot-tubbing.
The women left the parking lot together and Woods followed in his vehicle. After driving a few blocks, Woods was pulled over by a Clayton police officer who administered a field breath test that showed Woods’ blood alcohol level was about twice the legal limit. He was arrested and charged with drunken driving and in September 2007, he pled no contest in return for a fine and attendance at an alcohol awareness program.
In December 2008, after Woods’ divorce became final, 45-year-old David Dutcher was approached by a woman through a dating site who suggested they meet for drinks at a restaurant in Concord, California. When they met, the woman was joined by a female companion. Both women encouraged Dutcher to drink beers and take shots of alcohol. The women then invited him to join them for a night in a hot tub. Minutes after he got behind the wheel of his car and began to follow them, he was pulled over by a police officer and arrested for drunken driving. A blood sample showed an alcohol content of .12 percent--.04 percentage points above the legal limit.
Dutcher, an aerospace engineer, was divorcing his wife at the time. Not long after his arrest, his wife’s attorney, Mary Nolan, filed a motion to curtail Dutcher’s visits with his children. Dutcher was convicted of drunken driving in 2009 and his driver’s license was suspended for four months.
In 2011, Christopher Butler, a former Antioch, California police officer turned private investigator, was arrested and charged with orchestrating Dutcher’s arrest after being hired by Dutcher’s wife. The two women who met Dutcher at the bar were Butler’s operatives. A police officer who took part in the scheme was waiting to arrest Dutcher after he left the restaurant.
Butler admitted that he was paid $2,500 by Dutcher’s wife and that the women were decoys. He also admitted that he had been paid to set up several other men, including Woods, who were enmeshed in divorce proceedings. He called the set-ups “dirty DUIs.”
The Contra Costa County District Attorney’s office turned over information about the scheme to attorneys for Woods and Dutcher.
On September 14, 2011, ruling on a motion brought by Dutcher, the California Court of Appeals issued an order that Dutcher’s conviction be vacated, the charge be dismissed and he be declared factually innocent.
On March 28, 2012, a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge vacated the conviction, dismissed the charge and declared Dutcher innocent.
On January 23, 2012, Woods withdrew his plea, his conviction was vacated and the charge was dismissed.
Woods filed a civil lawsuit against his former wife, Butler and others in 2012. The lawsuit was pending in 2013.
Butler was indicted by a federal grand jury and pled guilty. He admitted to dealing drugs, framing men for the drunken driving arrests and operating a massage parlor that was actually a brothel. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Also indicted in the schemes were four other men who were current or former police officers, and Mary Nolan, the attorney, who was accused of hiring Butler to plant listening devices in the cars of men her clients were in the process of divorcing.
One of the officers, Norm Wielsch, the former head of the Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement team, was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Former San Ramon police officer Louis Lombardi was sentenced to three years in prison. Former Contra Costa County Sheriff’s deputy Stephen Tanabee was convicted in September 2013 and sentenced to 15 months in prison. In 2014, Nolan pled guilty to tax evasion and one count of illegal eavesdropping. She was sentenced to two years in prison, paid $469,000 in back taxes and relinquished her law license.
– Maurice Possley