A local Tampa station has reported that the Florida Bar has released their report and is recommending severe discipline for some Tampa lawyers involved in the Bubba the Love Sponge defamation trial from last year. The news story can be watched here. The full Florida Bar report is available here.
After over a year of investigation, The Florida Bar finally released the report in the now famous DUI set up case involving a civil suit between local radio personalities “Bubba the Love Sponge” and “M.J.”
In the middle of the Tampa defamation trial, Todd “M.J.” Schnitt’s lawyer was arrested for driving under the influence. An investigation by a special prosecutor determined that he was set up by opposing counsel!
The Florida Bar determined that a legal assistant who worked for the law firm spotted M.J.s’ lawyer at Malios and started talking with him. She lied about where she worked and continued to buy him drinks-while at the same time texting her boss, Robert Adams. Fellow lawyer Adam Filthaut called his friend-Tampa Bay Police Department Sgt. Ray Fernandez. Records show that shortly thereafter, the two men began texting and calling each other.
Sgt. Fernandez and other officers staked out the parking lot at Malios until they saw Campbell and M.J.’s attorney leave the restaurant. Ms. Personious asked the attorney to move her car and he did-only to be immediately surrounded by police and arrested for a DUI!
That is when it gets more unusual. After claims that he was set up, M.J.’s attorney got the attention of the Florida Bar who proceeded to investigate. They found that after the arrest, dozens of text messages that night between Personius, Filthaut, co-counsel Stephen Diaco, and Sgt. Fernandez were either erased or destroyed.
As a result of the investigation from the grievance committee of the Florida Bar, the Bar says Stephen Diaco and Adam Filthaut engaged in dishonest conduct, made false statements and unlawfully concealed and destroyed documents and evidence (tampering with evidence).
The Bar will now file a formal complaint and recommend discipline againt the lawyers involved. The punishment can range from a warning, a suspension to even disbarment!
Tampa Sgt. Fernandez was fired and is still being investigated by the FBI and federal prosecutors for possible federal crimes.
Based on the facts of the case and how the evidence was obtained, the Hillsborough State Attorney’s office has declined to press DUI charges against M.J.’s lawyer.
Have you or a loved one been arrested for a DUI or a federal offense? Then call the Florida DUI lawyers of Blake & Dorsten, P.A. today! These former prosecutors are experienced trial attorneys.
The lawyers at Blake & Dorsten, P.A. handle all criminal and car accident cases throughout the Gulf Coast of Florida including Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota, Dade City, New Port Richey, Bradenton and Crystal River.