Caught on Camera: Phil Campbell DUI arrest | News
Tampa, Florida -- They are the images attorney Phil Campbell probably never wanted you to see. Tampa police dash cam video from the night the Tampa lawyer was busted for DUI.
All of it took place this past January right in the middle of the big MJ Schnitt/Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem shock-jock trial.
At the time, Campbell called his arrest a conspiracy, and claimed he'd been set-up.
So what does the video show?
Well, it is not the smoking gun that proves some sort of conspiracy to set Phil Campbell up. Nor does it disprove that allegation.
"You've got a very distinct odor of alcohol beverage coming from your breath," says Tampa Police Sgt. Tim McGuiness as the camera begins its 11-minute documentation of the stop.
What the dash cam video shows is Phil Campbell trying to convince McGuiness to cut him some slack.
Campbell tries to explain that he wasn't even driving his own car the night he left Malio's Prime Steakhouse.
"I was just trying to help this lady," he tells him.
That "lady", we now know, was 30-year-old Melissa Personius.
Never seen during the DUI video, Personius, a legal assistant for the opposing law firm, repeatedly declined to address accusations she'd played a role in setting Campbell up.
"Did Mr. Diaco instruct you to buy any drinks for Mr. Campbell that evening?"
"I invoke my right to the 5th amendment," Personius answered under questioning.
The officer who made the initial stop, Sgt. Raymond Fernandez, did testify he'd gotten a tip from someone inside the Diaco law firm, the firm representing Bubba the Love Sponge Clem in during the shock jock civil case.
"Uh, gave me the name, the description of a car. Was at Malio's. He was drinking," Fernandez testified.
During the videotaped exchange, Campbell tells Sgt. McGuiness about all the issues that may effect his DUI test. He tells the officer he's old. He says he's taking medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol. He also says speaking issues could lead him to mispronounce his alphabet or even stutter.
"I'm just telling you, right now, I have a speech impediment."
"Oh, do you?" asks the officer. "What do you do for a living?"
"We're not going there," answers Campbell.
During none of the video, even after officer McGuiness informs Campbell he's placing him under arrest, does Campbell express concern about the legal briefs he'd left in the back seat of Personius'scar. Briefs with legal strategies and other sensitive document related to his clients, the Schnitts.
Later, however, the briefcase became the target of conspiracy allegations and demands for a mistrial.
Campbell does finally tell Sgt. McGuiness he's a lawyer.
"And I'm in the middle of a big trial. Okay. And I've got to show up tomorrow morning," he tells the officer.
But Campbell's big concern, as it becomes clear officer McGuniess will cut him no slack, is not for woman he'd offered to do a favor. Nor, does he mention the sensitive legal papers in the back seat of her car.
As he's loaded into the back of a TPD cruiser, Campbell seems most concerned that one day the video of what was taking place would be published.
And now it has been.
"This is going to be on television, please!" says Campbell.
"I can't help that, sir," answers Sgt. McGuiness.
"Oh my Lord," Campbell says.
The briefcase was returned the next day, apparently with nothing out of order.
There was no mistrial declared, but the Schnitts later went on to fire Campbell as their attorney.
The shock-jock case ended with a victory for Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, but the DUI case it spawned is now in the hands of Pinellas County prosecutors, who've taken it over due to a conflict of interest with Hillsborough prosecutor Mark Ober, who was called to testify during the shock-jock trial.
There's no word on whether Campbell's DUI case will go trial, but if it does, it may re-open the questions of conspiracy still left unanswered by the video released today.
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