A former commander of a Contra Costa County anti-drug task force was the mastermind of a prostitution racket in Pleasant Hill, the lawyer of a private investigator accused of stealing drugs from law enforcement evidence lockers, has alleged.

William Gagen, the lawyer who is representing Christopher Butler, said co-defendant Norman Wielsch, who is the former head of the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET), had come up with the idea of running a brothel in Pleasant Hill after being in the business of shutting them down for years.

Butler is in the eye of the storm for leasing an office space for a massage parlor in Gregory Lane.

According to Gagen, Wielsch knew how to run a brothel and knew how to keep competitors away. The lawyer said Wielsch had told Butler to lease the space at 670 Gregory Lane and employ a 36-year-old Oakland woman to manage the brothel. Though Butler made weekly cash collections from running the racket, the profits were handed over to Wielsch.

Wielsch also kept competitors at bay by organizing raids on them and shutting them down, Gagen said. Nonetheless, the brothel shut down last year as it didn't do well as they'd hoped.

Wielsch's lawyer Michael Cardoza has, however, rubbished the claim, saying Butler is spinning tales to save himself. Cardoza said the allegations are nothing more than Butler's fantasy.

Butler leased the property. He bought the furniture from IKEA. He brought it to the premises and put it together. He hired the girls. He collected the money, Cardoza told reporters, adding that the allegations would be vigorously opposed.

Both Butler and Wielsch, who were arrested in February for allegedly stealing a long list of drugs from evidence lockers and selling them, are facing theft and drug charges and prosecutors are mulling whether to add pimping charges.

Butler and Wielsch, who were once on the Antioch police force together, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Contra Costa County Prosecutor Harold Jewett said the new allegations would be investigated and charges would be pressed as deemed fit.