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Prosecutors drop drug case against ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini

A Tampa police spokesman said something obviously went "awry" when David Bellini was charged with drug trafficking after a suspected overdose. He won't be prosecuted, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office decided Thursday. [DKR Communications]
A Tampa police spokesman said something obviously went "awry" when David Bellini was charged with drug trafficking after a suspected overdose. He won't be prosecuted, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office decided Thursday. [DKR Communications]
Published Feb. 15, 2018

TAMPA — ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini won't be prosecuted on a drug trafficking charge filed by Tampa police this week, the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

The county's top prosecutor instead applauded police for helping to save Bellini's life on Dec. 24, when his 12-year-old daughter called 911 to report that he appeared sick and his face had turned blue, leading to the discovery of a bag of powder near him.

State crime lab analysts confirmed the bag contained heroin and fentanyl, but not enough to merit a trafficking charge, police now acknowledge. And a Florida statute known as the overdose immunity law protects against possession charges if police find drugs while responding to an overdose.

"Obviously something went awry and we are trying to determine exactly what that was," Tampa Police Department spokesman Steve Hegarty said.

An arrest affidavit originally made it look like Bellini had 24.1 grams, well over the 4 gram threshold for drug trafficking. However, Hegarty said that number was the total package weight, not just the drug.

The report from the crime lab did not list a weight for the drug. State spokesman Jeremy Burns said analysts list the weight only when the quantity approaches trafficking volumes.

Hegarty said the reason for the charging error is unclear.

Police Chief Brian Dugan wants to know exactly what happened, Hegarty said.

Regardless of how it happened, Bellini's attorney, Todd Foster, said the arrest was wrong and damaging for both Bellini and ConnectWise, the largest software development firm in Tampa Bay.

"There's no question, the client is extremely grateful for the efforts of the responders, who likely saved his life. Extremely, extremely grateful," Foster said. "But the collateral damage was tough for him and tough for the business."

Now that Bellini does not face charges, Foster said he can focus on restoring his health and family relations, along with working to restore his reputation.

"He is a father and long standing, local area businessman, whose attempt at relief from chronic pain had turned into a dependency problem," Foster wrote. "He is among millions in the country looking to address similar issues with expert help."

Contact Caitlin Johnston at cjohnston@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.