Armed with a photo of Phil Campbell and a tipster's play-by-play inside Malio's restaurant, Tampa Police Sergeant Ray Fernandez admits to a stake out that would last close two hours.
During a hearing in February, Sgt. Fernandez said the tipster was his long-time friend of 15 years, Adam Filthaut, an attorney for the Adams and Diaco Law firm.
LINK: Read the transcript of the February hearing:
That firm was defending Bubba the Love Sponge in a defamation lawsuit filed by MJ Todd Schnitt, whose lead attorney was Phil Campbell.
The night of Campbell's arrest, he was having drinks with Melissa Personius at Malio's, who he did not know was also an employee at Adams and Diaco.
The defamation lawsuit came to sudden halt, as Campbell alleged a DUI setup.
Hoping to get to the bottom of it, the judge ordered Sgt. Fernandez and others to testify during a mini-trial.
Even then, Sgt. Fernandez told the judge it wasn't the first time Campbell's name had come up.
"I had received this call prior, a month prior, where we also tried to locate that defendant," Fernandez said.
Sources tell FOX 13 Sgt. Fernandez exchanged close to 200 text messages and calls on the Campbell stakeout. Many included Filthaut giving him "intel" from inside Malio's.
"I think he's going to be leaving, no, he's decided to buy another round of drinks for everyone."
Tampa defense attorney Anthony Rickman says the FBI may see issues with the officer's actions, "if there are numerous text messages between this officer and Bubba's legal team, I do see a potential of this officer being charged criminally," Rickman said.
The FBI is already looking into whether Campbell's civil rights were violated using police authority.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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