Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Have lawyerly shenanigans caught the FBI's eye?

Hey, are those FBI footprints we're seeing in the investigation into whether lawyers plotted to get opposing counsel arrested on a DUI charge during that ridiculous shock jock trial?

That's the hot legal rumor percolating around Tampa courthouses — though the FBI itself politely declined Tuesday to confirm involvement in the serious questions raised over the arrest of lawyer C. Philip Campbell during that defamation case.

In case you missed this crazy legal drama thus far, the allegations go like this:

A comely paralegal from the firm of Adams & Diaco walks into Malio's bar. Campbell, twice her age, is with a fellow attorney post-court, blowing off steam. This was after another day seated in a courtroom with a potty-mouthed shock jock once accused in the on-air slaughter of a wild pig, and another DJ whose morning crew used a crane to drop a turkey carcass through the open roof of a van with a vat of burning oil inside, which you could probably guess set the van afire. And clearly, I do not understand morning radio.

So the paralegal lies and says she works for another firm, not the one Campbell was up against in court. She buys drinks and gets him to drive her car, though he normally walks home to a condo.

Meanwhile, a lawyer in the Diaco firm calls a friend who happens to be a Tampa police DUI sergeant. Officers stake out the area before arresting Campbell a few blocks from the bar, driving the aforementioned paralegal's car.

"I want to know what happened," said the beleaguered trial judge soon after, and by now so do a lot of others.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, assigned by the governor to Campbell's DUI case, is looking into his arrest. The Florida Bar is investigating three Adams & Diaco lawyers — partners Stephen Diaco and Robert Adams, and Adam Filthaut, friend to the sergeant.

Among the questions: Will the DUI charge stand if questionable circumstances led to the arrest? Was there really a plot to get Campbell? And if so, did someone break the law, or at least the rules and obligations of being a lawyer?

If all this has caught the eye of the FBI, which can look into things like potential civil rights violations or even corruption, it will be no surprise.

Stephen Diaco issued a statement saying the firm has always cooperated with law enforcement, had not been contacted by the state attorney's office or the FBI and was cooperating with the Florida Bar. "We are also not aware of any laws that have been broken or ethics violations committed," he said.

•••

With the untimely death of Tampa lawyer Steve Burton, Gov. Rick Scott has an interesting choice when it comes to the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which Burton chaired — a board that governs the airport we love.

Scott, who has not exactly been embraced by Floridians and is seeking a second term anyway, has a plum appointment to make. And lately he has been working hard to convince people that, really, he does care about Florida even if he did try to run this state like his own business until election loomed.

So will he make an appointment all about inclusiveness? Could it even be … a Democrat? The current board is very white and very male, and a little diversity might be nice.

•••

Speaking of diversity, there's no lack of it in the historic Tampa figures picked for the latest crop of statues along the Riverwalk — men, women, black, white, from newspaper entrepreneur C. Blythe Andrews to Paulina Pedroso, Cuban freedom organizer.

Hey, how about our own rogues gallery of figures from this town's grittier side — mobsters, criminals and crooked politicians who shaped this city, too? Suggestions, anyone?

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