State attorney drops DUI charge against Phil Campbell - FOX 13 News

State attorney drops DUI charge against Phil Campbell

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's office has dropped DUI charges against Phil Campbell, the attorney arrested during the Bubba-MJ defamation trial last January.

According to court documents, the state attorney's office said it did not have enough evidence to prosecute Campbell.

LINK: Pinellas State Attorney report dismissing DUI charge

Campbell was the lead attorney representing Todd "MJ" Schnitt in a defamation lawsuit he filed against Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem.

The night of Campbell's arrest, he was having drinks at Malio's with Melissa Personius, a paralegal at Adams and Diaco, the law firm representing Bubba Clem. Campbell and the rest of Schnitt's legal team said the DUI was orchestrated by Bubba's legal team.

The state attorney's office said monday that the credibility of the officers involved in the arrest would have been a significant issue in a possible trial.

In a scathing, 24-page memo, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's office gives a timeline of events leading to Campbell's arrest.

"This timeline reveals a pattern of communication between these parties that would leave no doubt in any reasonable mind as to their motives and intentions," it said.

The memo says it started when Personius, the paralegal, spotted Phil Campbell drinking at Malio's as she was leaving, and called her boss to tell him. She then returned to Malio's, where she befriended him.

While they were drinking inside, Sgt. Ray Fernandez was exchanging text messages -- 92 of them -- with his good friend at the Diaco law firm.

The investigation concludes: all three collaborated to cause the arrest of Phil Campbell that night.

It also found Sgt. Fernandez deleted 92 text messages.

The report says Personius was not a credible witness, and her memory loss was suspect and designed to hinder the investigation.

It said Sgt. Fernandez, who made the stop, and Officer Tim McGinnis, who made the arrest, had no interest in proving Campbell's guilt. Their goal was to arrest Campbell to benefit Sgt. Fernandez's friend at the Diaco law firm, the memo says.

And with that, the DUI charge is dropped.

The FBI is now investigating whether Phil Campbell's civil rights were violated by Sgt. Fernandez.

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor says Fernandez utilized bad judgment and her department is working closely with the FBI.

Phil Campbell's attorney says Campbell is grateful for a thorough investigation.



Details emerge about stakeout of MJ attorney before DUI arrest:

MJ attorneys demand mistrial, allege conspiracy:


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