Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

State to drop DUI charge against Channel 13 anchor Russell Rhodes

TAMPA — The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office will drop a driving-under-the-influence charge against WTVT-Ch. 13 morning anchor Russell Rhodes, five months after he was tackled by an off-duty deputy in a Channelside parking garage.

Rhodes, 50, was headed for trial on Wednesday on charges tied to his Jan. 16 arrest.

Instead, he will plead no contest to misdemeanor obstruction as part of a plea agreement reached Monday by prosecutors and defense attorney Jeff Brown.

If a judge accepts the plea, Rhodes will perform 50 hours of community service, Brown said. Adjudication will be withheld, meaning he will not have a conviction on his record.

"The 50 hours of community service are appropriate based on the way he handled himself that night," Brown said. "I think Russell has already acknowledged he didn't handle it in the most professional manner."

Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi would not discuss the plea negotiations.

Rhodes, who lives in Tampa, was arrested after a deputy stopped him in the public parking garage at Channelside on suspicion that he was impaired. The deputy said Rhodes tried to walk away twice after being ordered to stay put and surrender his car keys.

When Rhodes tried to run out of the garage, authorities said, the deputy took him to the ground and arrested him on a charge of obstructing or opposing an officer without violence.

Rhodes, whose jail mug shot showed injuries to his face, resumed his on-air duties in mid February.

Authorities said he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.179 and 0.178 at the time of his arrest, more than twice the limit at which Florida considers a driver to be impaired. But County Judge Cheryl Thomas threw out the blood evidence last week, saying it was improperly obtained. Without it, the state had little chance of winning a DUI conviction.

"Dropping the DUI is clearly the right thing to do," Brown said. "I hope people don't think he's being treated differently than anybody else."

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at or (813) 226-3337.

State to drop DUI charge against Channel 13 anchor Russell Rhodes 06/29/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 29, 2009 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  2. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  3. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  4. Florida softball returns to World Series; FSU baseball in ACC title game


    GAINESVILLE — Florida defeated Alabama 2-1 Saturday to win the deciding Game 3 of their softball Super Region, putting the Gators in the Women's College World Series for the eighth time in program history.

    ’NOLE POWER: FSU’s Dylan Busby, right, is congratulated by teammate Taylor Walls after Busby’s homer against Duke.
  5. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.