CHARLESTON – Charleston lawyer Dante DiTrapano's legal problems are mounting in Florida. A warrant was issued by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department Monday after DiTrapano failed to appear at a hearing on a crack cocaine possession charge, according to a department spokesman.
DiTrapano and his wife Teri were arrested March 14 at the St. Petersburg Hilton Hotel and charged with possession of crack cocaine. Both of them were released on bond from Pinellas County Jail last week.
The couple, as well as three individuals from the area -- Glinder Cecil, James D. Harper and James A. Lockett -- also were arrested for possession and a variety of other charges.
Officials said there were 73 pieces of crack cocaine and 21 grams of powder cocaine in the room when the arrests occurred. Dante DiTrapano, an attorney at DiTrapano, Barrett & DiPiero, told officers he and the others were having one last party before he entered a drug rehab facility there.
According to an interview with the Charleston Gazette, DiTrapano plans to sue the St. Petersburg Police Department for false arrest and illegal search and seizure.
He said that "someone's going to pay for it."
Teri DiTrapano had a $5,000 bond posted for her by a bondsman on Thursday, March 16. Dante DiTrapano had his $5,000 bond posted on March 17 on the condition that he be taken for treatment. He was released to HealthCare Connections of Tampa.
According to its Web site, Health Care Connections "has specialized in the treatment of impaired professionals" since 1995. The site says the facility provides care to both in-state and national referral sources for impaired doctors, pharmacists, veterinarians, dentists, nurses, other related health care professionals and attorneys.
Calls to DiTrapano's firm for comment on this story were not returned.
DiTrapano, who went to college in Florida, had rented three rooms for a one-night stay at the hotel. He told investigators he is an agent for a number of NFL players. That includes Oakland Raiders wide receiver and Kanawha County native Randy Moss.
The media release from the St. Petersburg Police Department said DiTrapano created a disturbance at his room, prompting the management to call police. Officers located the illegal drugs when they arrived at the rooms to investigate the call.
DiTrapano's firm is one used by Attorney General Darrell McGraw in a lawsuit against drug maker Purdue Pharma over alleged misrepresentation in marketing OxyContin pills.
When Purdue Pharma settled McGraw's suit for $10 million in 2004, the outside attorneys received a third of the settlement -- $3,333,333.33. The attorneys and the firms split the fee into four equal portions - $833,333.33 each.
Both DiTrapano and his wife also were among attorneys and family members of his firm who contributed at least $30,000 to McGraw's 2004 re-election campaign. That figure represents nearly 15 percent of all the contributions McGraw received in that run, according to campaign financial statements filed with the state Secretary of State's office.
Dante and Teri DiTrapano each made the maximum $2,000 in contributions -- $1,000 for the primary election and $1,000 for the general election.
According to his firm's Web site, Dante DiTrapano received his Juris Doctorate Degree at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta in 1994 where he was first in his class and delivered the valedictory address at the commencement ceremony.
His undergraduate work was done at the University of Florida and West Virginia State College where he received his Bachelor's Science Degree in Criminal Justice in 1990. He began his college career at Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Fla., where he received his Associate's in Arts Degree in 1986.
DiTrapano also won the West Publishing Award for Academic Excellence and was lead attorney on the Trial Advocacy Team that was runner-up in the 1993 national competition. He is admitted to practice in West Virginia and Georgia. The Web site says his primary practice is representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases, although he has tried to verdict cases involving medical malpractice, product liability, premises liability, fraud, property damage and accident cases involving both personal and commercial vehicles.
The site says DiTrapano is responsible for the firm's Atlanta's office and has tried to verdict cases in state and federal courts in Georgia. His profile also says he has obtained large recoveries in injury and wrongful death cases in West Virginia, Georgia, Florida, New Mexico, and South Carolina.
As Moss's agent, DiTrapano negotiated what was then the largest contract in the history of the NFL.
His profile also says DiTrapano is active in youth sports where he supports and participates in local football, basketball and baseball programs. He has five children.