Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lawyer accused in 'DUI setup' says he will no longer take the Fifth

TAMPA — As accusations of attorney misconduct wind their way through court, one lawyer said Monday he is done pleading the Fifth Amendment.

The promise comes two weeks after a jury ruled in favor of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, awarding no damages to his radio rival, Todd "MJ" Schnitt.

In a dramatic sideshow to the defamation trial, Schnitt attorney C. Philip Campbell was arrested Jan. 23 and faces a DUI charge after drinking and chatting at Malio's Prime Steakhouse with a woman who didn't disclose she was a paralegal for Adams & Diaco, the law firm representing Clem.

Tampa police pulled over Campbell about 10 p.m. that night, as he drove the paralegal's car near Malio's. Police say they had been sitting on the location after being tipped off by a lawyer at Adams & Diaco.

When police arrested Campbell, he left his trial bag — with confidential information — in the paralegal's car. It was returned the next afternoon.

When Campbell and his firm discovered this, they filed a motion for mistrial and on Jan. 25, called the paralegal and two lawyers from Adams & Diaco to testify. It's possible employees at Adams & Diaco could have gone through the trial bag, Schnitt's attorneys said. They also accused the Adams & Diaco lawyers of setting up the DUI arrest.

While testifying Jan. 25, Stephen Diaco, a partner at the firm, invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify several times and said he had forgotten his cell phone, something the opposing counsel wanted so it could pull phone records.

In a statement released by his lawyer Monday afternoon, Diaco said his attorney is no longer advising him to plead the Fifth to avoid incrimination.

"I look forward to fully cooperating and providing relevant testimony regarding the facts alleged by the Schnitts in support of the motion for a new trial," Diaco said in the statement.

His attorney, Lee Gunn, said Diaco was given short notice about the Jan. 25 hearing.

"Now, he's in the position of being able to understand what people are contending," Gunn said.

Diaco also said he took a lie detector test Friday, which concluded he did not see any documents in Campbell's briefcase.

The Florida Bar opened an investigation last week after getting a complaint about three lawyers at the Adams & Diaco firm: Diaco, Adam Filthaut and Robert Adams.

The bar would not disclose who filed the complaint. Discipline for lawyers found guilty ranges from an admonishment to disbarment.

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

Lawyer accused in 'DUI setup' says he will no longer take the Fifth 02/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2013 11:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate


    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  2. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  3. Seminole Heights murders: fear and warnings, but no answers


    TAMPA — Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan elicited loud gasps from the crowd of about 400 who showed up at Edison Elementary School on Monday night to learn more about the string of unsolved killings that have left the southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood gripped by fear.

    Kimberly Overman, left, comforts Angelique Dupree, center, as she spoke about the death of her nephew Benjamin Mitchell, 22, last week in Seminole Heights. The Tampa Police Department held a town hall meeting Monday night where concerned residents hoped to learn more about the investigation into the three shooting deaths over 11 days in southeast Seminole Heights. But police could give the crowd at Edison Elementary School few answers. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Juvenile justice reform seen as help for teen car theft problem


    ST. PETERSBURG — One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations has decided to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year.

    One of Tampa Bay's largest religious organizations, Faith & Action for Strength Together (FAST), voted Monday night to make reforming the juvenile justice system one of its top priorities for next year. FAST believes civil citations could help Pinellas County?€™s teen car theft epidemic by keeping children out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. [ZACHARY T. SAMPSON  |  Times]
  5. U.S. general lays out Niger attack details; questions remain (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — The U.S. Special Forces unit ambushed by Islamic militants in Niger didn't call for help until an hour into their first contact with the enemy, the top U.S. general said Monday, as he tried to clear up some of the murky details of the assault that killed four American troops and has triggered a nasty …

    Gen. Joseph Dunford said much is still unclear about the ambush.