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Crime & Courts

Appeal denied for fired Tampa DUI unit supervisor


Published:   |   Updated: December 21, 2013 at 08:31 AM

TAMPA — The city of Tampa has denied an appeal by the former supervisor of the Tampa Police Department’s DUI unit.

The city agreed with Tampa Police Department’s dismissal of Ray Fernandez, a former sergeant who was accused of helping set up the DUI arrest of a local attorney involved in a case between rival disc jockeys.

The city’s letter, which was signed by the city’s employee relations manager Sarah Lang, states that “the disciplinary action administered by the department was appropriate.”

The grievance hearing was held Dec. 5; the appeal was denied on Dec. 13.

Owen Kohler, attorney for the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, said Fernandez will take his case to arbitration. Arbitration is the final step in the appeals process, and the arbitrator’s decision is binding.

Fernandez was fired in September after an investigation into the events leading to the Jan. 23 arrest of lawyer Philip Campbell, who was in the middle of a high-profile defamation trial between dueling radio hosts “MJ” Todd Schnitt and Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.

The case against Campbell was later dropped when it was revealed that the arrest happened after Fernandez had received a tip from attorney Adam Filthaut, a close friend of Fernandez who worked for the law firm on the other side of the defamation case.

Campbell was arrested after drinking at Malio’s Prime Steakhouse in downtown Tampa with a paralegal working for the Adams and Diaco law firm that also employed Filthaut. Campbell was charged with DUI after he was stopped in the paralegal’s car, which she had asked him to move for her.

Pinellas State Attorney Bernie McCabe later reviewed the case and dropped the charges after concluding Campbell was set up.

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