TAMPA — Ray Fernandez, the Tampa Police DUI sergeant fired in a lawyer scandal, attended a grievance hearing Tuesday in an effort to win his job back.
In an early step in a process that could take a year, Fernandez and his lawyers met with Assistant Chief John Newman to make their case that Fernandez was wrongly terminated over the January DUI arrest of attorney C. Philip Campbell.
A lawyer from a firm opposing Campbell in court at the time called in a tip to his friend, Sgt. Fernandez, about Campbell drinking at Malio's bar downtown. Campbell was joined at the bar by a paralegal who did not tell him she also worked for the lawyers he was battling in court.
Fernandez and his lawyer friend traded dozens of calls and texts that night before Campbell was finally arrested driving the paralegal's car.
Prosecutors later determined the arrest appeared to be a set-up and dropped the DUI. Fernandez, who said he didn't know the relationship between his friend and the man arrested that night, was fired last month after his bosses said he was untruthful and misused his authority.
His lawyer Chip Purcell has called the firing political and vowed to fight to get Fernandez's job back.