DUI charges against Attorney Phil Campbell dropped | News
Tampa, Florida -- Blockbuster news out of the Pinellas State Attorney's Office regarding Tampa Attorney Phil Campbell who was arrested in the middle of the Bubba vs. Schnitt shock jock trial back in January.
An investigation said there wasn't sufficient evidence to convict Campbell, who was Schnitt's attorney, and perhaps of greater significance is the fact that the report found it logical to believe Bubba's attorneys conspired to set up Campbell.
When Campbell was arrested Jan. 23 he claimed he'd been set-up by Melissa Personius, a legal assistant in the Diaco & Adams law firm who represented Bubba The Love Sponge in the trial at the time.
In court the next day, Personius took the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer when asked if Diaco instructed her to buy drinks for Campbell.
While Personius declined to answer on the stand we are learning she saw Campbell drinking at Malio's Restaurant, left, called one of her bosses and, according to the investigation by the Pinellas State Attorney, offered to go back to Malio's if they [the law firm] needed anything. The investigation said there was "no doubt" about her about motives and intentions.
Earlier this year, Myles Malman, an attorney representing the Adams and Diaco law firm argued, "This was no set up and she just happened to be in the bar and like Humphrey Bogart said, of all the places and all the gin joints in the world you had to walk into this one."
While Malman said it wasn't a set up, the investigation said Personius was engaged in a set up of Campbell and it was reasonable to assume Adams and Diaco were aware of organized effort to effectuate arrest of Campbell for DUI.
But according to documents, the valet at Malio's said in a sworn statement that he never saw Melissa Personius "do or say anything" that would get Phil Campbell to drive. He added that he saw Campbell take the valet ticket on his own, and insisted on getting behind the wheel.
In the meantime, DUI Sgt Ray Fernandez was contacted by the law firm the night of the arrest and told Campbell would be drinking and driving. His unit made the arrest somehow Fernandez accidentally erased 92 text messages about Campbell's drinking.
And while Fernandez and his DUI unit have made several arrests, his conviction rate doesn't compare well to the average officer who has less than a third of their arrests not resulting in a DUI conviction. Fernandez has almost half of his arrests that don't result in someone being convicted of DUI.
In this case, the State Attorney's Office found Fernandez and his unit were wrong again and there was insufficient evidence of Campbell's alcohol impairment.
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor said Sgt. Fernandez used bad judgment and should have assigned the case to someone who wasn't connected to the law firm.
The attorney for the Adams and Diaco law firm said:
"We respect the system and the decision made today by the State Attorney's Office as part of the process. Given that investigations into this matter are continuing, we cannot comment further at this time."
And Phil Campbell's attorney said it's obvious he was set up and all honest police and attorneys should be appalled.
Follow 10 News Reporter Mike Deeson on twitter @MikeDeeson