A San Ramon divorce attorney accused of working with a Concord private investigator to spy on clients' spouses by planting illegal listening devices was arrested and charged Tuesday with six counts of unlawfully intercepting communications and tax evasion, according to the Department of Justice.
Between about Aug. 9, 2007 and at least Sept. 9, 2007, Mary Nolan, 60, referred clients to work with private investigator Christopher Butler to plant concealed listening devices in the vehicles of her clients' spouses or significant others, according to the indictment.
Also, on numerous occasions, the indictment says, Nolan and her staff accessed the listening devices to eavesdrop on conversations to gain an advantage in their legal proceedings.
Butler, 50, pleaded guilty earlier this year to drug possession and sales, robbery, conspiracy against civil rights, extortion and other crimes he committed as a private investigator working with members of the Contra Costa County Drug Enforcement Team, or CNET, over a period of about four years.
(Related: Private Investigator Christopher Butler Pleads Guilty in CNET Corruption Case)
In March 2011, one of Nolan's former clients, who declined to give her name, told Patch that Nolan referred her to Butler in 2009.
When she met Butler, she said that her "skin crawled" when Butler told her what he could have done to her then-husband, including planting drugs in his car and, if needed, destroying his car by pushing it over a cliff.
She said Butler also told her he had broken into the home of a Marin County millionaire, put spyware on his computer and planted drugs in the house.
When the scandal broke, Patch repeatedly tried to reach Nolan but she didn't respond.
(Related: D.A.'s Office Reviewing 'Dirty DUI' Arrests, Including That of Tri-Valley Winemaker Mitchell Katz)
The indictment also says Nolan willfully attempted to evade a large part of her income tax, filing false returns from 2005 through 2008.
During that four-year period, Nolan reported taxable incomes of about $21,400, $12,500, $53,900 and $48,100. But the Department of Justice says her taxable income was about $307,000, $411,000, $575,000 and $414,000.
The unreported taxable income totaled about $1.84 million, resulting in additional tax due of about $594,000.
The maximum penalty for tax evasion is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to unlawfully intercept communications is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory penalty for unlawful interception of communications is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Nolan's bail is set at $250,000 and her next court date is Sept. 25.