SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 3, 2013) — Stephen Tanabe, a former deputy with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, was convicted by a federal jury in San Francisco, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
The jury found Tanabe guilty of two counts of extortion under color of official right; three counts of wire fraud on a deprivation of honest services theory; and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Tanabe was acquitted on one extortion count.
According to evidence presented at trial, Tanabe conspired to and engaged in a scheme to take bribes in exchange for his services as a deputy sheriff, thereby depriving the people of Contra Costa County of their right to his honest services. Specifically, the 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 “decoys” to entice the sting targets to bars in downtown Danville, where Tanabe was assigned to patrol, and encourage them to drink.
Butler entered into a cooperation plea agreement with the government on May 7, 2012, and was sentenced on Sept. 25, 2012, to 96 months in prison.
Tanabe, 50, was originally indicted on Dec. 15, 2011. The superseding information on which he was tried filed June 12, 2013. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 11 before U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer.