Saturday, December 16, 2017
News Roundup

Todd 'MJ' Schnitt vs. Love Sponge shock radio trial winding down in Tampa

TAMPA — Five years after Todd "MJ Kelli" Schnitt sued his radio rival, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, it could all be over today.

The defense rested its case Tuesday. Closing statements are expected this morning.

The six jurors and four alternates have listened to two weeks of testimony that included hours of radio clips and testimony from the shock jocks themselves.

Schnitt and his wife say they were haunted by Clem's accusations.

On Cox Radio's WHPT-FM 102.5, Clem targeted Schnitt. He called Schnitt's wife a "whore." He accused her of conspiring against him. He insinuated that Schnitt accepted favors and gifts in exchange for plugs on-air — and that he may have tampered with radio ratings.

Clem says it was nothing more than theater and a "radio war," a long-honored tradition in the business.

On Tuesday, jurors heard from Brent Hatley, who worked with Clem and was charged along with him for an incident involving the on-air slaughter of a hog.

They also heard from Kimberly Collelo, known by her former radio name "Jabberjaw" on the MJ Morning Show.

She was the subject of one of the radio clips in evidence.

Collelo had called Clem's show and said she had heard from a "reliable" source that Schnitt had tampered with radio ratings.

She didn't know first-hand that Schnitt had done that, she testified Tuesday. She had simply heard that from a radio producer, Andrew Eden.

Later, Eden testified he never told Collelo that Schnitt had skewed ratings.

The defense rested its case late Tuesday morning.

In the afternoon, Circuit Judge James Arnold denied the defense's request that the judge throw out the remaining defamation charges. He had already thrown out five of them. A dozen more remain.

Arnold also denied the plaintiff's motion for a directed verdict.

Before the jury was brought in Tuesday, the lawyers involved in the case once again quibbled over issues surrounding allegations that Clem's lawyers set up one of Schnitt's lawyers for a DUI arrest.

Attorney C. Philip Campbell Jr. was arrested Jan. 23 after leaving Malio's Prime Steakhouse, and accusations more dramatic than the trial itself followed.

According to court testimony Friday, Campbell met a woman at Malio's who never revealed her full name, Melissa Personius, or the fact that she is a paralegal for Adams & Diaco, the firm representing Clem.

Campbell talked about his big case, according to testimony; the woman ordered drinks.

Police got a tip about Campbell at about 7:30 p.m. and police officers waited near the restaurant.

An officer pulled Campbell over at about 10 p.m.

Campbell left his trial bag in Personius' car and did not get it back for 20 hours.

Schnitt's attorneys are seeking cellphone records and have served subpoenas and set up a deposition for this week, said Norman Cannella Sr., who is representing one of the lawyers at the firm of Adams & Diaco.

Cannella said Schnitt's attorneys have filed a motion for contempt.

The judge once again shut down the attorneys.

"This court is not going to hear that this morning," Arnold said.

"We are five minutes into the jury's time. … I am not going to take up any of the jury's time taking up these subpoenas. That can be for another day."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3433.

Comments

High school scoreboard for Dec. 15

Friday’s scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 7, Clearwater 0Osceola 9, Bradenton Bayshore 0Palm Harbor U. 2, Plant 1Boys soccerPalm Harbor U. 0, Plant 0Lennard 4, Armwood 1
Updated: 5 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Fri., Dec. 15, midday:01 563 0000e_SRit95765Fri., Dec. 15, evening:12 287 1492e_SRit04851Fantasy 5Fri., Dec. 15...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Gators play Nebraska, still seeking elusive volleyball title

Gators play Nebraska, still seeking elusive volleyball title

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There is very little these days that can dampen the mood of Florida volleyball coach Mary Wise, whose Gators knocked off reigning national champion Stanford in Thursday’s NCAA semifinals and face Nebraska tonight for the title. Not...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

Pinellas sheriff’s investigator fired, could face criminal charges for involvement in child custody battle

LARGO — A Pinellas sheriff’s child protective investigator has been fired and could face criminal charges after an investigation found she made a child custody recommendation to a judge as a favor to a friend.Jayne Johnson, who has worked for the She...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Festivus 2017: Send us your best grievances

Festivus 2017: Send us your best grievances

Here's your chance. Tell us what annoyed you in 2017, and we'll share it with our readers.
Updated: 6 hours ago
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

Deputies: Plant City men fled in stolen car, shot dog, hid in swamp

DOVER — Two Plant City men who ran from deputies and shot a dog were captured after a brief pursuit Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.They ditched a stolen car, ran away on foot, crossed through several yards and then tr...
Updated: 8 hours ago