OAKLAND -- The ousted head of an elite Contra Costa County vice squad pleaded guilty to five felonies in federal court Wednesday, nearly two years after his state Department of Justice colleagues caught him selling stolen drug evidence.
Former Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement (CNET) Cmdr. Norman Wielsch, 51, of Antioch, kissed his father before he stood in front of the judge and admitted to selling drugs that had been seized by CNET agents, robbing prostitutes and making phony arrests.
He was taken into custody after, in a barely audible tone, he said he was "guilty" of crimes dating back to 2009. His plea was part of a deal he made with federal prosecutors.
Wielsch, a law enforcement officer for 25 years, apologized for the shame he brought to the badge, and particularly the members of CNET, a Department of Justice operation that was shut down after Wielsch's arrest.
"We (at CNET) did a lot a lot of good things before I did all these stupid things," Wielsch said.
"Most of all, I want to say sorry to my dad, who I let down and brought disgrace to my family name," he said, breaking down in tears. "I'm very sorry."
A judge will decide how much prison time Wielsch receives at his sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 19.
The federal sentencing guidelines call for between 14 and 17.5 years in federal prison. Wielsch's attorney, Michael Cardoza, says he's forbidden from arguing for fewer than 10.

pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine, theft from programs receiving government funds, robbery, and two counts of conspiracy against civil rights. Another six felony charges were dismissed as part of the plea deal.
Describing to the judge how he and former Concord private investigator Christopher Butler would make dates with prostitutes they found on the Internet and then rob them, Wielsch stopped himself and said, "I'm sorry, I really can't believe we did this."
Butler and Wielsch, friends since they were on the Antioch police force together in the 1990s, were arrested in a state Department of Justice sting in February 2011, prompting a countywide police-corruption probe that expanded to include allegations that the pair ran a Pleasant Hill brothel and led to more arrests.
Former CNET agent and San Ramon police officer Louis Lombardi, 40, of Discovery Bay, pleaded guilty to stealing drugs in the case and was sentenced in January to three years. Former Danville officer Stephen Tanabe, 48, of Alamo, is awaiting trial on charges that he conspired with Butler to set up the estranged husbands of Butler's P.I. firm clients for DUI arrests.
San Ramon attorney Mary Nolan, of Oakland, is among the defendants being sued in civil court for the so-called Dirty DUI scheme. She is also awaiting trial on charges that she and Butler used eavesdropping equipment on her clients' estranged spouses.
Butler, 51, of Concord, also took a plea deal and was sentenced in September to eight years in federal prison. His attorney said Butler was motivated by a need for cash when his business suffered at the expense of his failed attempt to launch his own reality TV show.
Cardoza said Wednesday that it's unclear why Wielsch "went bad" after serving "the public honorably for a number of years."
"I don't think even Norm knows the answer to that," Cardoza said.