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Lawyer arrested in Tampa prostitution sting

TAMPA — Tampa defense attorney Kevin J. Napper, husband of a Hillsborough Circuit judge, was arrested Monday in a Drew Park prostitution sting.

Napper, 51, was driving a gold Mercedes E500 when he approached an undercover police officer about 2 p.m. at N Lois and W Osborne avenues, police say.

He offered her $40 to provide oral sex, Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said, at which point the officer signaled to her partners to move in.

"I made a simple mistake," Napper told police upon his arrest, according to Davis. He said nothing further, asking to speak to his attorney.

Police found a wedding band in the driver's side door panel.

Napper has been married to Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Katherine Gail Essrig since 1995, according to public records.

He specializes in white-collar criminal defense, governmental investigations and internal investigations, according to his profile on his Carlton Fields law firm's Web site. He is the president-elect of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Federal Bar Association, according to the group's Web site.

Essrig handles juvenile dependency cases in family court. She won a county judgeship in 1990 and then a circuit judgeship six years later.

Reached at home, both Napper and Essrig declined to comment. Napper has no other arrests, state records show.

Napper's arrest was part of a ongoing sting in the Drew Park area, which netted four people within four to five hours Monday. Davis said it wasn't long ago that the same operation would bring a dozen arrests.

Earlier this year, similar undercover crackdowns in that area resulted in the arrests of criminal defense attorney Victor D. Martinez and former Fox WTVT-Ch. 13 general manager Robert W. Linger.

Martinez and Linger each entered a misdemeanor intervention program.

Drew Park is home to a number of adult businesses, which became a police target after the City Council earmarked $132,714 to monitor activities there.

Times researcher John Martin and staff writer Colleen Jenkins contributed to this report. Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

Lawyer arrested in Tampa prostitution sting 09/30/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 3, 2008 6:13pm]
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