The Setup: A True Story of Dirty Cops, Soccer Moms, and Reality TV

The Setup: A True Story of Dirty Cops, Soccer Moms, and Reality TV


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The Setup: A True Story of Dirty Cops, Soccer Moms, and Reality TV by Pete Crooks

The pitch went like this: Chris Butler, a retired cop, ran a private investigator firm in Concord, California. His business had a fascinating angle—his firm was staffed entirely by soccer moms.

In fact, Butler employed PI Super Moms: attractive, organized, smart, and trained in investigative techniques, self-defense, and weaponry. This American Life host Ira Glass described them as “MILF: Charlie’s Angels.”

When this story came across Pete Crooks’s desk when he was working at Diablo magazine in 2010, he was instantly hooked. He’d heard a little bit about Butler and his super moms in the news; they’d been featured in People magazine and on Dr. Phil. What Butler’s publicist was offering was too tantalizing to pass up: an opportunity to ride along with Butler and a few of his sexy PIs as they prepared to start filming a reality TV show.

But after the ride-along—and after he started receiving mysterious emails from one of Butler’s employees—Crooks started to realize something didn’t seem right. After doing a little digging, he discovered the “sting” he’d seen only had one real victim…him. The PI bust had been a setup.

Crooks wasn’t a hardboiled crime reporter. He did lifestyle pieces for a regional magazine. The more he learned about Butler’s operation, the more he realized he was in far over his head. But swallowing his fears, he decided he was going to write an expose on Butler and his entire organization. He soon found himself deep in the underbelly of fake sting operations, wannabe celebrities, police corruption, drug-dealing, reality television, double-crossing employees, and more twists and turns than a dozen crime thrillers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781940363318
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Publication date: 01/13/2015
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 803,307
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Pete Crooks is a Bay Area-based journalist, and the author of the seminal investigative story about one of the Bay Area’s most sensational crime and corruption stories in recent history. For the past 14 years, Crooks has been one of the editors of Diablo magazine, and was on assignment for the magazine when he broke the incredible crime scandal detailed in The Setup: A True Story of Soccer Moms, Dirty Cops, and Reality TV.

Crooks’s reporting on this stranger than fiction story about reality show wannabes, duplicitous soccer moms, and a conspiracy involving corrupt cops and a sociopath private investigator received national acclaim, inspiring episodes of the award-winning radio program This American Life and 48 Hours on CBS news, for which Crooks served as an official consultant.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 The Ride-Along

1 Have We Got a Story for You 5

2 The King of Stings 7

3 Let's Go for a Ride-Along 14

4 The Dr. Phil Sizzle Reel 30

5 Pi Moms Starts Shooting 37

Part 2 A Secret Source

6 An Unexpected Email 53

7 Do as Columbo Does 75

8 A Dirty DUI 80

9 What Does a Guy Have to Do to Get a Role on a Reality Show? 84

10 A Cry for Help 90

11 The Cavalry Is Named Cindy Hall 98

12 Reality Sabotage 106

13 A Dirty DUI, Part Deux 121

Part 3 The Investigation

14 The DOJ Gets the Download 127

15 Stolen Dope at Rock-Bottom Prices 142

16 So Long, PI Moms 155

17 Tickling the Wire 166

18 The Last Supper 171

19 Halfway on the Record 191

20 The Case of the Candyman 199

21 Butler Squeals 208

22 The Case of the Porn Princess 213

Part 4 A Bright White Spotlight

23 Breaking the Inside Story 223

24 Mystery Date and Madame DD 230

25 They're Not Booing, They're Yelling "Lou" 238

26 Let's Make a Federal Case over It 241

27 Face-to-Face with Norm Wielsch 243

28 Summer of Carl 252

29 A False Complaint 269

30 Background Check 279

31 Showdown on Dr. Phil 283

32 The Talented Mr. Marino 290

33 The End of the Line 301

Acknowledgments 309

About the Author 311

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The Setup: A True Story of Dirty Cops, Soccer Moms, and Reality TV 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
PleasantHillRandalll More than 1 year ago
This is a remarkable story that occurred right here in the East Bay area. The author does a great job putting the whole crazy tale together—he played a key role in exposing a ring of con artists and corrupt police officers. Most important is the startling realization of WHY this scandal was exposed. There was a reality TV show being filmed about a group of liars and con artists who were willing do anything to get attention. I could not put this book down and I thought I was familiar with the story from the original magazine and newspaper articles. This book reveals considerably more criminal mischief and really gets into showing how some people will do anything for fame. Its very much the story of the times we are living in. Just a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jessecolorado18 More than 1 year ago
This book is a level less than horrible. I really wanted to like it given all the hype. Not only is the story tired, and told over and over again by the magazine that employs the author, but I found a few grammatical errors that interrupted my reading. I can't help but notice all the reviews I read on Amazon are not verified purchases. I’ll be selling mine on eBay.