Meet the Tampa lawyer who just agreed to defend Trump

John Lauro has represented two Trump lawyers in addition to handling a series of high-profile cases in Tampa Bay.
Attorney John Lauro, in a 2007 photo, is joining former President Donald Trump's legal team.
Attorney John Lauro, in a 2007 photo, is joining former President Donald Trump's legal team. [ Times (2007) ]
Published July 21, 2023|Updated Aug. 1, 2023

Tampa attorney John Lauro joined Donald Trump’s legal team this week as the former president faces the possibility of a third criminal indictment related to a federal investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Related: UPDATE: Trump charged by Justice Department for efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss

Lauro, a white-collar lawyer, is a former federal prosecutor with extensive experience in criminal and commercial litigation who has previously represented Trump attorneys Christina Bobb and Alina Habba.

A graduate of Georgetown Law, Lauro has been a prominent legal presence in Tampa Bay for decades, said Tampa criminal defense lawyer and longtime friend John Fitzgibbons.

Prior to joining Trump’s team, Lauro’s highest-profile case came in 2007 when he defended former NBA referee Tim Donaghy of Bradenton, who pleaded guilty to accepting payoffs from gamblers and betting on games himself. The case garnered national attention for accusations that the league encouraged officials to rig games and refrain from calling fouls on star players to protect ratings. The NBA later changed its rules for referees, including an outright ban on gambling.

More recently, Lauro represented Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano in 2020 amid FBI and IRS investigations into an anonymous donation to a county-owned park and his subsequent purchase of a beachfront property earmarked for the development of condominiums, which were never constructed.

Lauro was also a defense attorney in the 2013 WellCare Medicaid fraud case in Tampa, in which former company executives were found guilty of health care fraud for submitting false expenditure reports to the state Medicaid program, defrauding patients of $30 million in care.

Lauro joins Trump’s legal team to exclusively focus on special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election, according to CNN.

“If I were in trouble, John (Lauro) would be the very first lawyer that I would hire,” Fitzgibbons said. “… I think Mr. Trump has made a good decision.”

Lauro’s office did not return the Times’ request for comment.