TAMPA Just when everybody thought the dust had settled around Tampa’s much-publicized shock jock defamation case, the sideshow around the saga kicked up a notch.
The FBI is now investigating if the attorney for Todd “MJ” Schnitt had his civil rights violated during the trial in January that pitted Schnitt against his radio rival, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
Schnitt’s lawyer, Charles Phillip Campbell Jr., had been drinking at Malio’s Steakhouse after court recessed on Jan. 23. Schnitt’s attorneys said a legal assistant in the office of Adams and Diaco, a law firm representing Clem, bought Campbell at least one drink then asked Campbell to move her car.
A lawyer in the Diaco firm, Adam Filthaut, alerted a friend in the Tampa Police Department that Campbell had been drinking at Malio’s and would be driving home, police testified.
After Campbell moved the car, he was arrested on a DUI charge.
Schnitt’s legal team said Campbell was set up by Clem’s attorneys. Clem’s legal team said it had done nothing improper.
The FBI is now trying to sort it all out.
Investigators will “analyze all of the facts related to this matter and follow the evidence to a logical conclusion to determine if any federal laws have been violated,” said FBI special agent Dave Couvertier.
Tampa lawyer John Fitzgibbons, who is representing Campbell in the DUI case, said that “it is clear to me that Mr. Campbell is considered a victim for the purposes of federal criminal statutes.”
Fitzgibbons said several weeks ago that he and Campbell were contacted by FBI agents from the agency’s public corruption and civil rights unit.
“We’re fully cooperating in the federal criminal investigation,” Fitzgibbons said. “I urge all lawyers and police officers involved in this sordid affair to fully cooperate in the investigation.”
Attorneys at the Diaco law firm did not return calls.
The FBI has seized the cell phone from the police officer who pulled Campbell over in January.
Police Chief Jane Castor said her agency and the FBI are working together.
“The Tampa Police Department is working with the FBI in its investigation to determine if there was any wrongdoing in the arrest of Phil Campbell in January of this year,” Castor said in a statement.
“The DUI sergeant turned over his cell phone as part of the investigation. TPD holds its officers to very high standards and it will assist the FBI in a thorough investigation to ensure the integrity of the police department.”
As for what happened in the defamation case, Clem, who had called Schnitt a “midget” and Schnitt’s wife a “whore” on the air, was exonerated.
Jurors took less than three hours to deliver a verdict in Clem's favor and against Schnitt, who had filed the defamation suit against his rival.