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The pitch went like this: Chris Butler, a retired cop, ran a private investigator firm in Concord, California. His business had a fascinating anglehis 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-alongand after he started receiving mysterious emails from one of Butler’s employeesCrooks 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.
|Publisher:||BenBella Books, Inc.|
|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
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
About the Author 311
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.