A federal judge on Friday dismissed a second defamation lawsuit brought by a former federal prosecutor against Tampa U.S. Attorney Robert O’Neill, The St. Petersburg Times reported.
O’Neill has come under criticism from former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Del Fuoco since O’Neill was a finalist to head the Middle District of Florida.
Del Fuoco, who blames O’Neill for the loss of his job, sent letters and e-mails to both the White House and Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-Fla.) office claiming that investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s office were compromised because of an extramarital relationship O’Neill had with an office employee, as issue on which O’Neill has not commented.
Del Fuoco also raised questions about O’Neill’s ownership interest in Four Green Fields, a Tampa bar that once raised money for Irish Republican Army political leader Gerry Adams.
In 2009, Del Fuoco brought his first defamation suit against O’Neill, which was dismissed by U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore in February 2010, the newspaper reported. The suit was based on comments O’Neill made in his application for U.S. Attorney. In dismissing the suit, the judge told Del Fuoco to keep his “impertinent and immaterial” allegations to himself, according to The St. Petersburg Times.
Last week, Whittemore said Del Fuoco used the same rhetoric in his second complaint. In the suit Del Fuoco claimed defamation, violation of the Privacy Act and civil contempt because Del Fuoco could “prove no set of facts that would entitle him to relief on any of his claims,” the newspaper reported.
In addition to dismissing the case, Whittemore admonished Del Fuoco for accusing people not named in the suit of wrongdoing as well as alleging that O’Neill was involved in criminal acts, according to The St. Petersburg Times.
Whittemore’s ruling prevents Del Fuoco from filing another case based on the same claim, the newspaper reported.