Lawyer Referral Service

LRS Blog

Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Oct 11, 2013

Twelve individuals facing drunken driving charges have had their charges dropped because former Tampa police DUI Sgt. Ray Fernandez was involved in their arrests.

Fernandez, a 19-year veteran of the force, was fired in September after an internal investigation revealed he abused his authority, destroyed evidence and lied about a DUI setup scandal while directly involved.

Now, the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office has closed 12 pending cases in which Fernandez play an integral role as an essential witness, what known as the “stop officer” who made the initial traffic stop that led to the arrest.

“We’re not going to use him as a witness if he’s been found to be untruthful,” said Douglas Covington, the bureau chief of misdemeanor and traffic cases for the State Attorney’s Office.

Attorneys for the accused have argued that putting Fernandez on the stand would be ill-advised as jurors would heavily question his credibility. However, Fernandez’s attorney called dropping the DUI cases “irresponsible”

The Tampa P.D. is taking this in stride hoping the arrests themselves will deter the dozen accused of drinking and driving.

“We just have to hope that the DUI arrest is the wakeup call for these drivers,” said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. “You were put in handcuffs, taken to jail, held accountable for your actions. Lots of times that’s enough to make people change their behavior.”

The State’s Attorney’s Office is reviewing Fernandez’s role in nearly 40 other DUI arrests dating to 2000, cases in which an arrest warrant was issued.

Fernandez’s arrest came after it was revealed that Sgt. Fernandez was working with the Adams & Diaco lawfirm to secure the arrest of rival attorney C. Phillip Campbell.  An Adams & Diaco paralegal allegedly met Campbell at a bar, lied about her profession, plied him with drinks and asked him to drive her car. It was then that the paralegal informed Sgt. Fernandez and the initial arrest was made.