Prominent Federal Prosecutor Busted Handing Business Card to Police Investigating DUI Hit-And-Run

Screenshot of an officer’s body cam catching Joseph Ruddy slipping his DOJ business card to police. Video: Tampa Police Department.

By Steve Neavling

A prominent federal narcotics prosecutor was caught on police body cam footage trying to give his Department of Justice business card to officers who arrived at his Florida home to investigate a hit-and-run on the Fourth of July. 

Joseph Ruddy, 59, was charged with driving under the influence and causing property damage after he allegedly was involved in a crash with another vehicle and then drove off. 

But he remained on the jobs for two months and even appeared in court recently to represent a task force he helped create two decades ago to prosecute cocaine smugglers, the Associated Press reports

When police arrived at his house, the intoxicated prosecutor tried to slip an officer his DOJ card, according to footage obtained by the AP.

“What are you trying to hand me?” an officer asked. “You realize when they pull my body-worn camera footage and they see this, this is going to go really bad.”

A day after the AP inquired about Ruddy’s status with the Department of Justice, he was pulled off three pending criminal cases on Wednesday. It’s unclear if he was suspended, but he was still employed, although he had been removed from his supervisory role at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tampa. 

The Office of Inspector General has been asked to investigate and will likely focus on whether Ruddy attempted to use his public office for private gain, said Kathleen Clark, a legal ethics professor at Washington University in St. Louis who reviewed the footage.

“It’s hard to see what this could be other than an attempt to improperly influence the police officer to go easy on him,” Clark said. “What could possibly be his purpose in handing over his U.S. Attorney’s Office business card?”

Ruddy’s blood-alcohol list was 0.17, twice the legal limit. 

Ruddy was one of the architects of Operation Panama Express (PANEX), a tax force created in 2000 to target cocaine smuggling at sea. 

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