Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge in Bubba-Schnitt case wants answers in alleged DUI setup

TAMPA — Bubba the Love Sponge Clem's attorneys want the drama to be done, but the judge wants answers.

Both sides need to cooperate in an investigation about what happened at Malio's Prime Steakhouse on Jan. 23, or Circuit Judge James Arnold said he'd set aside a week to hash it out in court.

"I want to know what happened," the judge said at Friday's status conference.

It all stems from accusations that arose during a civil defamation trial that pitted radio host Todd "MJ" Schnitt and his wife against Clem. In January, a jury denied all counts and awarded the Schnitts nothing.

But the allegations of a DUI setup remain.

According to Schnitt's former attorneys, which the couple have since fired, lawyers representing Clem set up one of Schnitt's attorneys for a DUI arrest mid-trial.

That attorney, C. Philip Campbell Jr., had drinks at Malio's on Jan. 23 with a woman who did not disclose that she was a paralegal for Adams & Diaco, the firm representing Clem.

Campbell later drove her car, but was pulled over a few blocks from Malio's by Tampa police, who had been waiting thanks to a tip from a lawyer at Adams & Diaco.

On Friday, Clem's attorneys said there is nothing wrong with a citizen giving a tip to police — and that Campbell drove on his own accord.

The Schnitts' new attorney, Wil Florin, said he wants to question at least four to five "key players." He also wants surveillance video, which recorded the valet area outside Malio's, as well as drink receipts from Jan. 23.

All that investigating will be expensive, Clem's attorney George Vaka said. He filed a motion Friday, asking the judge to order both sides to mediation.

"To see if we can get this entire matter resolved," Vaka said.

Lee Gunn, an attorney representing Adams & Diaco, said his clients have already been cooperating with the investigation. He pointed to signed affidavits from attorney Stephen Diaco and the paralegal, Melissa Personius, which were filed Monday.

In the affidavits, Diaco said he had no idea Campbell would be going to Malio's that night. He said he never asked Personius to lie about where she worked or ask Campbell to drive her car.

Personius wrote that she went to Malio's on her own accord and that Campbell bought her drinks and that he insisted on driving.

Still, the affidavits do not address many of the questions initially raised. As Schnitt's attorney, Florin, started to address that, the judge cut him off.

"The affidavits are lacking a lot," Arnold said. "There's too many unanswered questions."

Both sides agreed to mediation, which will be held next week.

Florin also is expected to file a list of people he plans to question.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Judge in Bubba-Schnitt case wants answers in alleged DUI setup 03/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 8, 2013 10:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. UF denies white supremacist Richard Spencer's request to speak on campus


    Citing serious safety concerns, the University of Florida has denied Richard Spencer's application to speak on campus next month.

  2. MoviePass now offers unlimited movie watching in theaters for $10 a month, here's what you need to know


    There's now a service that says it will let you watch as many movies as you want for one monthly price: MoviePass. 

    MoviePass will let customers see up to one movie, every day, for $10 a month.
  3. Former Florida prison guards in KKK convicted of plotting to kill a black inmate


    Two former prison guards in Florida who were members of the Ku Klux Klan have been convicted of plotting to kill a black inmate in retaliation for a scuffle with another guard who also belonged to the hate group.

    A jury in Columbia County found David Elliot Moran, left, and Charles Thomas Newcomb guilty of conspiracy to commit first degree murder after they were caught discussing their plans to kill a black inmate in retaliation for a scuffle with another guard who, like them, belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. [Alachua County Jail via AP (2015)]
  4. Jameis Winston's subtle but strong moment of leadership displayed on 'Hard Knocks'


    Quarterback Jameis Winston went to each teammate in the locker room prior to the Bucs' preseason opener Friday at Cincinnati with one message: 'I got your back.'

    Then he proved it.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston throws during the first half of the team's preseason NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Friday in Cincinnati. [AP photo]
  5. Daniel Ruth: Duck & Cover? Fix a drink, instead, if a nuclear bomb ever threatens


    I am a child of the "Duck & Cover" generation.

    Threats of thermonuclear attack bring to mind the safety advice that school children received during the Cold War, driven in part by an arms race that included the first test of a hydrogen bomb. "Ivy Mike," pictured here, was  set off in 1952 on the Enewetak atoll in the Pacific Ocean. [Los Alamos National Laboratory via The New York Times]