TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — While many Tampa Bay Area neighbors were watching fireworks or wrapping up a barbecue on the Fourth of July, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Ruddy was allegedly driving drunk in Temple Terrace, according to police.
Recently released body-worn camera footage reveals the point at which Tampa Police Department officers found Ruddy after he was purported to have sideswiped another car and then left the scene.
“So, I’m out here because there was a hit-and-run,” said a TPD officer in the video. “And you ran.”
“Yeah,” Ruddy responded.
“You ran because you’re drunk,” the officer replied back.
The police report said Ruddy smelled like alcohol, urinated on himself, and was very sweaty. He blew a .172 on the breathalyzer, more than double the legal limit.
But it was his actions after the police walked up that raised the most questions.
“What is this?” the TPD officer asked Ruddy, who had his arm out with his business card. “What are you trying to hand me?”
Ruddy didn’t reply, then the officer read the card. “Joseph Ruddy. Is that you?”
“That’s me,” Ruddy said.
In the video, Ruddy appeared to try to use his government position to get out of trouble. Even the officer asked him about it.
“You realize,” the officer explained. “When they pull my body-worn camera footage and they see this, this is going to go really bad.”
In a statement to 8 On Your Side, Ruddy’s attorney, Paul Sisco, said he wouldn’t comment on the facts of the case, but said, “We will proactively address this matter responsibly and without undue delay.”
A legal ethics expert said Ruddy was out of line.
“The implication here was, I am a federal prosecutor working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Renalia DuBose. “And you should not cite me for that hit-and-run.”
But a former federal prosecutor said otherwise.
“I think a police officer would want to know that the person who they’re dealing with is a lawyer,” said Todd Foster. “Is a federal prosecutor.”
Foster, now a private attorney, said police might want to gauge the relative safety or dangerousness of a traffic stop.
“I didn’t think that him producing the business card was that out of line,” Foster commented. “If it was out of line at all.”
In a statement to 8 On Your Side, a DOJ spokesman said, “The Department of Justice holds all personnel, including its Assistant U.S. Attorneys, to the highest standards of personal and professional conduct.”
The DOJ said Ruddy was pulled from his supervisory position on July 11 and has been replaced in at least three cases. Ruddy will be back in court on Sept. 27 for the DUI charge. He was not charged for the hit-and-run.