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SHERIFF'S OFFICE SEEKS A NEW DUKES CHARGE

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is asking the State Attorney's Office to file a misdemeanor charge against inactive Devil Rays player Elijah Dukes for allegedly violating his wife's protective order.

A sheriff's deputy was called to the Brandon home of NiShea Gilbert, Dukes' estranged wife, on Monday, sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Gilbert told deputies that Dukes called her home Sunday and asked to speak to his children, which she allowed.

"I probably shouldn't have done it," Gilbert told the Times Tuesday, "but my son was right there asking who was on the phone. When I told him it was his father, he pretty much grabbed the phone from me. (Dukes) wasn't irate or upset like he usually is. He wasn't cursing, so I let him speak to him. It's just sad that the kids are in the middle of this."

But Gilbert then said she got several harassing phone calls the following day from an unknown woman who is believed to be affiliated with Dukes.

"They were violent and threatening," Gilbert said of the caller, who she said called three times in 10 minutes from different phone numbers. "It's happened before. I'm just tired of it."

A protective order granted by a Hillsborough circuit judge in May bars Dukes from contacting Gilbert for one year. He is also prohibited from asking a third party to contact her.

"The deputy responded to the wife's house and filled out a report for a violation of a domestic protective order," Carter said.

Catherine Real, Gilbert's attorney, said she urged her client to contact authorities when she learned about the call.

"Security first," Real said. "That's the most important thing."

The sheriff's report was sent to the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office, which will decide whether to charge Dukes. The report hadn't been received as of Tuesday evening, Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said.

Dukes has been under scrutiny since Gilbert, 26, told the Times that he threatened to kill her and their children. After weeks of controversy, the Rays put Dukes on the temporary inactive list. He was optioned to Class A Vero Beach. In the meantime, Gilbert filed for divorce.

Carrie Weimar can be reached at (813) 226-3416 or cweimar@sptimes.com. Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at eencina@sptimes.com.

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