TALLAHASSEE – Adam Robert Filthaut, an attorney who practiced law with Adams & Diaco in Tampa, is still facing the possibility of permanent disbarment for allegedly participating in the orchestration of the wrongful arrest of an opposing counsel in a high-profile, multimillion dollar case.
The judge found credible evidence that the Adams & Diaco lawyers Stephen Diaco, Robert Adams and Filthaut plotted the DUI arrest of C. Philip Campbell, the opposing lawyer, to gain an advantage in a defamation case between two rival, high-profile radio personalities Todd "MJ" Schnitt and Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem.
“This malicious tampering with another person’s personal life and career was not only unprofessional, it was inexcusable,” the presiding Senior Judge W. Douglas Baird said in his written opinion on the case.
The official court document explained that the Adams & Diaco law firm represented Clem in his defense and during the trial, Campbell was targeted, plotted against and arrested for DUI.
The Adams & Diaco lawyers were accused by the bar of orchestrating the arrest by having a paralegal play nice and drink with Campbell at a nearby bar and then trick him into moving her car while a friend on the Tampa Police Department was waiting to catch him.
Text and phone records in the case revealed that Clem’s legal team tipped off their friend, Tampa Police Sgt. Raymond Fernandez to set up Campbell. Furthermore, the paralegal allegedly regularly reported on her and Campbell’s whereabouts as she fed him more drinks and asked him to help her drive.
The court document further explained that once allegations of the plot surfaced, the lawyers went into damage control by attempting to cover and destroy evidence that might link them to Campbell's arrest.
“Diaco, Adams and Filthaut engaged in dishonesty, deceit, and misrepresentation, among other violations during the conspiracy,” the court records said.
After Campbell was booked into jail on the bogus DUI charge, he lost ground to Adams & Diaco in the case they were trying. Even though the dispute between the two sides, Campbell's client (Schnitt) fired him and sued for his fees.
The accused lawyers argued that Campbell chose to drive intoxicated and they were trying to be good citizens by reporting his dangerous activity. Baird was not convinced with their explanation.
During a June appeal for a lesser decision than permanent disbarment, Mark O'Brien, who is a former Miami-Dade prosecutor, urged the court to be fair to Filthaut. He argued Filthaut’s role in the plot deserved a lesser charge than Diaco or Adams. O’Brien suggested disbarring Filthaut for five years and with the possibility of being re-admitted after the designated time frame, rather than being permanently disbarred.
Campbell, on the other hand, wanted permanent disbarment for all three attorneys and refused to accept less.
"Unequivocal, total and complete disbarment for life," John Fitzgibbons, Campbell’s council and chair of the Florida Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, said. "These were despicable acts committed by these three crooked lawyers, and they don't deserve to ever be called a lawyer in their lifetime."
After an internal investigation, the Tampa Police Department fired Fernandez and Campbell's DUI charge was later dropped.