A private detective in California is accused of using honeypots to lure divorcing men into drunken driving arrests. Hired by divorcing wives and their legal representation, alluring women pretended to have romantic interests in their targets before getting them inebriated and on the road where alerted officers would pull them over. The investigation has revealed a web of corruption that involves two police departments and a state task force and created a mess for prosecutors.
The frame-ups were effective: A man in the middle of a divorce would be approached, either in person or online, by an attractive woman looking to pick him up. They would eventually go to drinks and be joined by a second woman who, after helping get the man to drink a few too many, invite everyone to their place. On the way to the new location the male target would be pulled over and arrested for a DUI. This would put the other party in the divorce at an advantage during its proceedings.
The private investigator, Christopher Butler, would pay the female decoys $25 an hour for four-hour minimums, with one drinking while the other drove. He would observe the proceedings at the bar and call the police once the target took off in his own vehicle. The events, dubbed by authorities as “dirty DUIs,” stunned prosecutors, who dismissed charges in at least 20 DUI and vice crimes tainted by the involvement of the accused officers. Two convicted men had their DUI convictions as the stings violated a little-used 19th century law that makes it a felony to conspire to subject another person to arrest. The divorce attorneys involved claim to know nothing about the private investigator’s illegal activities.
The system collapsed when one of the private investigator’s former employees blew the whistle. After being arrested, Butler, a former police officer himself, stated he sold drugs for law enforcement officers and helped them open and operate a brothel. The resulting investigation touched so many areas of local law enforcement that the probe was taken over by the FBI.