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Saturday, Aug 02, 2014
Editorials

Tampa chief should send strong message

Published:

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor can't be blamed for wanting to defend her troops, but characterizing an officer's conduct during a dubious DUI arrest as "bad judgment" looks to be generous.

An investigation by the State Attorney's Office in Pinellas County found the arrest of a Tampa lawyer was a blatant setup by the law firm on the opposing side of a highly publicized radio shock-jock trial involving Bubba the Love Sponge Clem and Todd "MJ" Schnitt.

The 24-page report detailed how a young woman employed by the Adams and Diaco law firm, after contacting her superior, flirted with and bought drinks for the 65-year-old opposing lawyer at Malio's restaurant and then asked him to move her car.

Meanwhile, a lawyer at Adams and Diaco who was a friend of Officer Raymond Fernandez called Fernandez to tell him someone was about to drive drunk.

The report says the lawyer and Fernandez exchanged 92 text messages that evening "while Sgt. Fernandez essentially lay in wait most of the three hours." The officer says he accidentally erased the text messages.

This smelly affair taints all involved, but the police participation is particularly dismaying.

The FBI is investigating, but Castor, who's been a strong leader, needs to make powerfully clear she won't tolerate her officers being a party to such shenanigans.

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