This story was first broadcast on Feb. It was updated on Nov. I walked in and the first thing I noticed was the walls of the office were covered with 8x10s of all the s and s detective shows that I watched growing up Those are the shows I loved when I was a kid so I was kind of charmed by it. And I knew the guy wanted to be on TV.
To him, the attractive, confident women were real-life "Charlie's Angels" and their boss, Chris Butler, a charismatic entrepreneur who spent 10 years as a cop -- was straight out of central casting. Chris Butler bought the agency in , and turned it into what he claimed was one of the most successful private eye firms in the Bay area, investigating everything from insurance scams to cheating husbands.
When he added soccer moms as investigators, he said his business boomed. And Butler's team was getting noticed, from People magazine to morning TV shows. Moms also became a big story for the "Dr. Phil" episode Ami Wiltz was one of the P. Like Butler, Wiltz was also a former cop-turned professional private investigator. But she was juggling a home life with three kids, which Butler believed made her and the other moms uniquely qualified for the job.
I'm able to multitask I'm also, you know, just naturally nosey Phil" show, Butler talked about why he chose soccer moms: But Butler said he had that covered.
Moms extensively in self-defense, in investigative techniques Besides the moms, Butler also employed attractive women to be "decoys"; women like Ryan Romano. Moms in standard field work, but sometimes the decoys went beyond that to do some not so standard operations. For example, a sting Butler shared with Dr. Phil McGraw where a decoy "Sharon," catches a cheating husband. Well sure enough, once our investigator was in the bar and he walked in, he made a beeline right for her," Butler told McGraw on his show.
Mom operatives was in a very romantic situation with the target here," McGraw commented to Maher. Because things are getting pretty rich up on the balcony here. Is it OK with your husband? Is it-- this wouldn't be OK with me. And it's, 'Well, you know, you do what you gotta do. In fact, his real-life private investigating team was about to become a reality TV show for the Lifetime cable network.
With the reality show cameras following the moms on their investigations, Butler would need help with the caseload. Marino spent 17 years as a deputy in upstate New York. Butler's ad seemed like a terrific opportunity for Marino, who had recently moved to San Francisco. They were looking to hire decoys for -- I think he termed it as 'the most successful private investigative company in the Bay area,'" he said.
But when Marino interviewed for the job, he learned it wasn't a typical "P. How comfortable I was with nudity? For a place operating on the fringe, there were plenty of real cops coming and going, including Norm Wielsch, the commander of the Contra Costa County Narcotics Task Force.
Wielsch and Butler had worked together and were friends. With those real cops hanging around, Butler's employees didn't challenge him on some of his questionable operations I mean, who's gonna say no to a pretty girl? Send in a pretty girl or "decoy," as Butler called them, to come onto the husband, get him liquored up - and then suggest they drive somewhere to have fun.
Just as the husband would pull out onto the street, a cop, who had been called by Butler, would pull over the husband for driving under the influence. Romano says Butler paid her to drink and flirt with those "targets. There was something not right in the fact that he probably got high off of doing all this With the reality show now in production and the national media exposure, Chris Butler's dreams of stardom appeared to be just a red carpet stroll away. But what no one knew was that dream was about to turn into a nightmare.