Divorce Lawyer Linked to Concord P.I. Sentenced for Eavesdropping, Tax Evasion

February 3, 2014 19:42 pm · 39 comments

A former divorce attorney was sentenced by a federal judge in San Francisco today to two years in prison for evading income taxes and hiring a Concord private investigator to hide a wiretapping device in the car of a client’s husband.

Mary Nolan, 62, of San Ramon, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in September to four counts of evading more than $400,000 in taxes over four years by understating her income and one charge of illegally intercepting communications.

In the eavesdropping count, she admitted to employing former private investigator Christopher Butler, of Concord, to place a concealed listening device made from a cellphone in the car of a divorce client’s husband between Aug. 9 and Sept. 9, 2007.

Breyer told Nolan during the sentencing today, “To eavesdrop on conversations that clearly weren’t intended for an adversary to hear is a very unfair thing to do.”

But he said he was especially concerned about the failure of Nolan, as a lawyer, to pay the taxes due.

“What I find most troubling is the fact that you were a lawyer. Lawyers have that special responsibility not just to know the law but to follow it,” he told Nolan.

Nolan admitted during her guilty plea to evading more than $400,000 in taxes for the tax years 2005 through 2008. She agreed to pay the U.S. Internal Revenue Service $469,000 in restitution, which she has now done, according to prosecutors, and resigned from the State Bar.

Her guilty plea concerned one instance of wiretapping a client’s husband, who was identified in a 2012 grand jury indictment as N.F.

An additional charge in the indictment that she conspired with Butler to eavesdrop on an unspecified number of her divorcing clients’ husbands was dropped as part of the plea bargain.

But in his own guilty plea in 2012 to a total of seven federal charges, Butler admitted to installing devices in the cars of 75 to 100 victims, including N.F.

Later, in testimony in Breyer’s court in the trial of former Contra Costa County sheriff’s Deputy Stephen Tanabe last year, Butler said he installed “probably a couple of hundred” wiretapping devices in spouses’ cars at the request of his clients or their lawyers.

Butler and former drug squad commander Norman Wielsch were the masterminds of a larger Contra Costa County corruption scheme that also included stealing and selling drug evidence, phony arrests, extortion and civil rights violations.

Butler was given a reduced sentence of eight years in prison in exchange for agreeing to cooperate with federal lawyers in the prosecution of related cases.

Wielsch, the former commander of the Central Contra Costa County Narcotics Enforcement Team, pleaded guilty to five counts in 2012 and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Breyer ordered Nolan to surrender to begin serving her sentence by March 6. He also ordered her to provide 240 hours of community service during three years of probation after she is released from prison.

Outside of court, Nolan and her lawyer, Cristina Arguedas, declined to comment.

{ 39 comments }

1 Anonymous February 3, 2014 at 7:47 PM

I have been waiting for this story to arrive on claycord. Before you all are quick to judge remember Mary is a good woman and she was roped into doing this. Don’t believe everything you read. If you know Mary you would know she did not do this on her own, it was not her decision.

2 b February 3, 2014 at 7:54 PM

Aww… poor Mary. I’m sure she didn’t hide $400k from the irs by herself. Glad she got busted.

3 Atticus Thraxx February 3, 2014 at 7:55 PM

yes Anonymous ’cause we all know divorce lawyers are some of the most moral people on earth.

Free Connie Dobbs

4 Cowellian February 3, 2014 at 8:12 PM

She seems to be part of that 99% of lawyers that give all lawyers a bad name.

5 The guilty... February 3, 2014 at 8:13 PM

The people that knew Bernie Madoff(spl?) thought
he was nice, she was roped into it! Are you asleep
or just feeling warm after a glass of merlot?
The people that knew the girl that ranoff with
that scum- bag after her child died said she was
a good mother.
Just another guilty person looking for any escape
from her actions . Hope they throw the book at her!

6 Truth Teller February 3, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Hey Anonymous, How do you know what she knew? She is an attorney. Her license to lie finally caught up with her.

7 @ Anonymous # 1 February 3, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Sounds like you got roped in under her spell too. Did it ever dawn on you that she is a master manipulator that has fooled you for years (along with so many others, including the government)? These are not small petty things she has been convicted of, and by her own admission nonetheless! Now thst she will be out of your life for a while, maybe you will wake up and smell the coffee. Praying for you.

8 Silva February 3, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Oh boo hoo, poor dear Mary!

9 the other jj February 3, 2014 at 8:55 PM

fours years of cheating should be four years in jail plus a fat fine

10 Anonymous February 3, 2014 at 9:39 PM

Poster 1 says not to be “quick to judge” Huh? A federal judge sentenced her after she pled guilty.When is it OK to judge her?

This is an Officer of the court who willfully failed to pay taxes and illegally bugged people and we shouldn’t judge ?

Lordy me someone is giving anonymous a bad name.

11 Officer Barbrady February 3, 2014 at 9:41 PM

Besides all of the above this attorney may be holding Connie Dobbs in her basement

12 anonymous February 3, 2014 at 9:42 PM

I know someone who hired her to handle his divorce. She went through his entire retainer of 5K in 4 months by telling him what he wanted to hear and providing no services. He ended up having to go with another attorney and basically lost the retainer. She was a total shark.

13 Jess February 3, 2014 at 11:03 PM

If under reporting her income for 4 years saved her $400,000 in taxes, imagine what her income must have been.

The article doesn’t even mention that she hired Butler to set up people for DUI arrests. I guess she got away with that.

What a scumbag. She should have gotten a lot more than two years.

14 mad mom February 3, 2014 at 11:20 PM

Cowellian, that was classic. :)

15 ChampagneKitty February 3, 2014 at 11:52 PM

Gasp! Officer Barbrady, you may be right!

Free Connie Dobbs

16 The Mamba February 4, 2014 at 6:42 AM

Did anyone else get a good laugh at the judge’s statement that she knew the law and should have followed it? No one is shadier than lawyers. This woman is a human piece of s and I hope that the people’s lives whom she affected have all of their cases reviewed as well.

17 Walnut Creek Resident February 4, 2014 at 7:46 AM

Bad girl!

18 Chevrolet girl February 4, 2014 at 7:52 AM

@ #1
You mean to tell me someone held a gun to her head two hundred times to bug men who were getting divorced? I think not. She was not “roped” into doing anything she did not want to do. You have been fooled by her. No one
“roped” her into not paying taxes. She is a low life, money hungry, con artist. Imagine the damage she has done to these men who got screwed in court because of her! She will not get one ounce of sympathy from me!

19 .... February 4, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Look on the positive side there is one less lawyer in CA..

20 jlevine February 4, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Up next…the women who hired her. She would not have been associated with these cases without them.

21 Yah non February 4, 2014 at 9:28 AM

How much did this cost concord I wonder if any? Ofc Turner was yapping he had to talk to peeps bout this since he was downtown back in the day. He doesn’t do nothin for free.

22 Silva February 4, 2014 at 9:28 AM

In defense of attorneys, they really aren’t all like this. There are a lot of self sacrificing and law abiding lawyers out there. I’ve met and known several. This person is a scumbag. She should be doing a lot more time, she probably has enough cash on hand to live happily ever after having seriously disrupted and created havoc in many lives.

23 @Jlevine #21 February 4, 2014 at 9:32 AM

It wasn’t only women who hired her.

24 Anon2you February 4, 2014 at 10:02 AM

#1 – She IS the ringleader in this whole thing! How could she have been roped into it? Next UP…The wives! They damn well were part of this too, and need to be prosecuted as well. NO lawyer does anything for a client for FREE, try calling a lawyer and talking on the phone for 15 minutes and see what I mean. They definitely don’t set up an elaborate scheme like this and without telling their client what they are doing. I hear that she even had the wives watch video tapes of their husbands being arrested while sipping champagne! The wives were directly involved in this whole thing and need to be held accountable too! Mary Nolan is a criminal and deserves to be treated like one. How does the champagne taste now!

25 Anonymous February 4, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Just leave her all alone she did not ask for any of this and she sure as hell does not deserve to have her name dragged through the mud. Her life is already ruined by greedy people just leave her alone already.

26 gjets February 4, 2014 at 10:14 AM

don’t drop the soap, oh ya, it is a female prison

27 Cowellian February 4, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Committing felonies was her own choice, and that does deserve getting her name dragged through the mud. And that admission of guilt for tax evasion is a pretty sure sign that she’s one of the greedy people.

28 Mr. Pink February 4, 2014 at 10:52 AM

A dishonest attorney? Will wonders never cease.

29 LocalGirl February 4, 2014 at 11:09 AM

@Anonymous … SHE doesn’t deserve to have her name dragged through the mud? SHE SURE DOES, and she deserves worse than what she got! You have it all backwards … it’s the people she set up who don’t deserve the hell she dragged them through! And, Anon2you … you are so RIGHT … the wives deserve to have their names and photos published, at the very least. Pathetic!

30 anononous #1 & #36 February 4, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Who are you, her mother? Dad? Her attorney? Well, whoever you are, get your head out of your silly a$$. Prison’s too easy for this %&#*!.

31 @Anononous #1 & #36 February 4, 2014 at 12:12 PM

You’re probably the troll from the “women against rape” column, right?

32 Pegasus February 4, 2014 at 12:32 PM

The Deaf Italian Bookkeeper
A Mafia Godfather finds out that his bookkeeper, Guido, has cheated
him out of $10,000,000.
His bookkeeper is deaf. That was the reason he got the job in the
first place.
It was assumed that Guido would hear nothing so he would never have
to testify in court.
When the Godfather goes to confront Guido about his missing $10
million, he takes along his lawyer who knows sign language.
The Godfather tells the lawyer, “Ask him where’s the money?
The lawyer, using sign language, asks Guido where’s the money?.
Guido signs back, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
The lawyer tells the Godfather, “He says he doesn’t know what you’re
talking about.”
The Godfather pulls out a pistol, puts it to Guido’s temple and says,
“Ask him again!”
The lawyer signs to Guido, “He’ll kill you if you don’t tell him..”
Guido signs back, “OK.!!!! You win! The money is in a brown briefcase,
buried behind the shed at my cousin Bruno’s house.”
The Godfather asks the lawyer, “What did he say?”
The lawyer replies, ” He says you don’t have the balls to pull the trigger.”
Don’t you just love lawyers …

33 curious george February 4, 2014 at 1:50 PM

why did he have to sign where the money was?
He was deaf not mute.

34 Cowellian February 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM

It never fails, but every time some thug gets busted for drugs, DUI, or some other crime, their groupies all come around to tell everyone what a great person the thug is. And now we learn that even criminal lawyers have their own groupies.

35 Anon2you February 4, 2014 at 2:36 PM

@ Anonymous – I think you must be a friend or family member to Mary Nolan, so I am sorry for you, since you were a victim of Mary’s poor decisions as well. But just examine her predicament for a moment. She was an educated woman, making a very good living, in the later part of her life, basically set up to succeed. I am sure she worked hard to get to that point, being a woman during that period, trying to be a lawyer she probably made many sacrifices personally to get there. BUT SHE threw that all away, herself, no one else did that. She damaged peoples lives, she damaged her career, she damaged the legal system that she swore to uphold, she violated the law by illegally bugging people, setting them up and ruining them financially, personally and professionally some cases. SHE DID IT, no one else. Now are we supposed to feel sorry for her because her life is ruined? Where is the logic in that? She is in failing health, lost her license to practice law and her career, she is an older person that will have to serve time in prison and that will cause her great hardship and her family and friends great hardship…Well BOO HOO… If SHE had been a GOOD person, she would be financially set, have a great law practice, be able to enjoy the later years of her life with her family and friends…She sold that future out for a pocket full of money and her soul…SHE DID THAT!

36 jlevine February 4, 2014 at 2:44 PM

@24 Well…. I did not read of any wives set up for DUI’s. So I stand by
my statement..Next up the women who hired her.

37 Jess February 4, 2014 at 3:15 PM

She hid $1.8 million in income from the IRS between 2005 and 2008, according to the newspaper. She declared a negative taxable income on her tax returns while sitting on $3 million in assets.

Nolan’s attorney tried to elicit sympathy for her by telling the judge that she suffered from post traumatic stress disorder due to losses early in life and that she had a history of sabotaging her relationships, often by having an affair.

She doesn’t get one iota of sympathy from me.

38 Anonymous February 4, 2014 at 4:27 PM

A poster posits “she did not ask for any of this” No she didn’t exactly volunteer for prison. She is a crook and got caught. Nothing new to see here folks, move along.

39 Atticus Thraxx February 4, 2014 at 5:14 PM

I smell a troll. Yep….I know that smell.

Free Connie Dobbs

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