Our Network of Support for Your Case

Qualified People in Our Network – Prepared to Help with Your Case

LaRissa Bland: Legal Assistant

IMG_2796Legal Assistant LogoLaRissa is a lifelong native of the Tampa Bay area. Her education was accelerated when she entered college by the age of sixteen and achieved an Associates Degree two years later. She was a “Bright Futures Medallion scholarship recipient and was awarded the Raymund scholarship for First Generation College Students. LaRissa went on to receive Bachelor’s degrees in both Psychology and Criminology. Her focus of study entailed abnormal psychology and the impact of alcohol and substance abuse on the criminal justice system. Prior to becoming employed at Russo and Russo, LaRissa worked as an Assistant to the Chancellor at the University of South Florida. She was later employed by another local St. Petersburg law firm where she was responsible for the work product of the law firm’s senior partner.

LaRissa manages the lawyer’s calendars and is responsible for the preparation of some legal documents. She speaks with the attorneys frequently throughout the workday. LaRissa also works closely with the Legal Assistants employed by the State Attorney’s Office in the scheduling of court dates and depositions. Her position affords her the opportunity to deal with “Judicial Assistants” (Judge’s secretaries), and the Clerks of Court on a daily basis. She has spent time at the “Clearwater Criminal Justice Center,” the two Pinellas County Traffic Court Divisions and the Clerk’s office. Accordingly, she is very familiar with court hearings and procedures. Because of LaRissa’s practical  experience with courtroom settings, she can typically answer your questions on court dates and what generally takes place at various stages of legal proceedings.

LaRissa is in charge of managing all written work produced and any legal fee billing during your representation. She may find it necessary at times to telephone you in connection with an upcoming court appearance. It is therefore critical that you keep her informed of any changes in your address or telephone number. Should you have a question about appearing at your court date or any outstanding balance on your fee account, LaRissa will be happy to assist you. As a member of the office staff, the law extends to LaRissa the attorney-client privilege. If you have a question or concern, please feel free to speak with her when you call. She can most likely answer specific questions concerning the status of your case and provide you with your next upcoming court date. LaRissa is an integral part of our office’s representation in your case. If you have a question that needs immediate attention, you should contact LaRissa. If she is unable to answer your question, she will speak with your attorney and then relay the response back to you as soon as possible.

Ladonne Reed: Legal Assistant

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Ladonne_ReedLadonne is originally from Nashville, Tennessee and has lived in Pinellas county since 2011. She attended college at Middle Tennessee State University. In addition to her regular tasks as a Paralegal, Ladonne often assists clients in our video-room with their review of instructional DVD’s prepared by the attorneys. These audio/video materials supplement the hard copy instructions many clients receive in the early stages of their representation. Ladonne was previously employed by a Tampa law firm as a legal assistant. She is a licensed Notary Public and quite adept in her computer skills. Ladonne is responsible for regularly accessing Pinellas County’s “Odyssey” Criminal Court Computer System for information imperative to the representation in each client’s case. Ladonne has also spent time at the “Clearwater Justice Center,” the two Pinellas County Traffic Court Divisions and the Clerk’s office. Accordingly, she too is very familiar with court hearings and procedures. Because of Ladonne’s practical experience with courtroom settings, she can typically answer your questions on court dates and explain what generally takes place at various stages of legal proceedings.

Ladonne’s duties include scheduling DHSMV formal review hearings and processing documents associated with these administrative matters. She is also primarily responsible for managing the filing, administration and approval of petitions to seal or expunge records of arrest. As a member of our office staff, the law extends to Ladonne the attorney-client privilege. If you have a question or concern, please feel free to speak with her when you call. She can often answer questions concerning the status of your case. She can likewise provide you with your next upcoming court date.  If she is unable to answer your question, she will speak with your attorney and thereafter relay the response back to you as soon as possible.

Erin Brennan: Law Clerk

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Erin Brennan

Erin is a lifetime resident of the Tampa Bay area. She is in her final year as a law student at Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg. Erin has served on Stetson’s nationally ranked Moot Court team. She is also a member of Stetson’s Student Leadership Development Committee.

Prior to law school, Erin attended Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, IN, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies. Erin also minored in Public Relations, Acting, and Philosophy. While at Saint Mary’s, Erin worked for the football program at The University of Notre Dame. She finished school a semester early and graduated with honors. After graduation, Erin worked for an international staffing firm in sales and recruiting. This position exposed Erin to business ethics, as well as, employment and labor law. She interfaced with clients and candidates each day and  is therefore very comfortable handling difficult situations and solving problems.

Erin often assists clients in our dedicated and specially constructed video-room. She is responsible for helping clients become familiar with their review of proprietary instructional DVD’s that have been written and produced by the attorneys. These audio/video materials supplement the hard copy instructions most clients receive in the early stages of their representation.

Erin is responsible for regularly accessing various government computer systems for information imperative to the representation in each client’s case. She also serves at times as an effective liaison between the attorneys in our office and clients.

As a law clerk, Erin’s duties include legal research, the drafting of memoranda of law, and the organization of case materials for the attorneys’ review.  She will, at times, also attend court proceedings with the lawyers in order to learn more about the criminal justice system and to assist them in providing a high level of service to their clients. Erin will help attorneys to coordinate clients’ appearances in court, as well as assist clients in finding their way around the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center.

As a member of our staff, the law extends to Erin the attorney-client privilege.  Anything that you say to Erin regarding your case is kept in strict confidence.  Accordingly, if you have a question or concern, please feel free to speak with our law clerk when you call.  Se can make sure that any significant facts or concerns that you might have are made known and are properly addressed.

Operation PAR: Addiction & Mental Health Counseling

Russo clients often take advantage of the addiction services offered by Operation PARGeorgina Rullo, Certified Addiction Professional, Operation PAROperation PAR provides affordable residential and out-patient alcohol and substance abuse treatment. They are a leading local provider of substance abuse counseling and co-occuring disorders. (Formerly referred to as “Dual Diagnosis” treatment.) They provide a comprehensive approach to wellness. Our law office has enjoyed a long and rewarding relationship with Operation PAR. The lawyers at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan financially support the work of PAR and participate in their charity functions. The criminal defense attorneys in our office have joined the PAR counselors as members of the Florida Association of Drug Court Professionals. Operation PAR’s treatment success has earned it federal funding and the respect of our local Pinellas County Judges. It has also achieved a national reputation for excellence because of its research initiatives funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Our office works closely with Georgina Rullo who is the Criminal Justice Liason at Operation PAR. She has been with Operation PAR for the past twenty-five years serving both the community and the judicial system. Georgina is a “Certified Addiction Professional.” In 2005, Georgina was honored as the “Certified Addition Professional of the Year” and the “Florida Alcohol Drug Abuse Association Professional of the Year.” She is also an executive board member of the Florida Association of Drug Court Professionals. Georgina has a reputation for the genuine best interests of her clients and their families. Our Clients can benefit from our professional relationship with Georgina Rullo and PAR in the following ways:

  • An expedited substance abuse/mental health evaluation and recommendation;
  • Effective and direct communication with Georgina Rullo and the PAR Counselors;
  • Affordable highly successful treatment and after care;
  • Respected courtroom testimony regarding our client’s amenability to treatment and potential for success in the context of sentence mitigation and avoidance of incarceration in the Pinellas County Jail or State Prison system.

Valerie R. McClain, Psy.D.: Forensic Neuropsychologist

Valerie McClaine, Psy.D.forensic psychologyDr. Valerie McClain provides both confidential psychological evaluations and reports that meet the high standards of both the State Attorney’s Office and our local Pinellas County judges. Under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code (commonly referred to as the “Sentencing Guidelines”) a treatable psychological disorder that requires specialized care is a valid basis for the judge to impose a non-state prison sentence, even if the law would otherwise require mandatory incarceration. For that reason, having a neuropsychological examination that results in a finding of a medically recognized psychological disorder could provide your counsel with mitigating evidence that could justify:

  •  A more lenient sentence;
  • Legal Grounds for a departure from the Florida Criminal Punishment Code (Sentencing Guidelines);
  • An argument to the judge in your case, that the best interests of justice support a resolution that entails counseling and/or treatment, as opposed to incarceration in the county jail or state prison system.

Dr. McClain received her doctorate degree in 1992 from the Florida Institute of Technology. She is Board Certified in Forensic Neuropsychology and is also a Board Certified Forensic Examiner. The doctor is a member of the International Neuropsychological Society and was honored in the past to receive the “Outstanding Caregiver Award” from Epilepsy Services. Dr. McClain provides credible objective testimony for the court’s consideration and can be an intregal part of insuring a fair and just result. She has testified in an “expert” capacity on countless occasions in the Pinellas County Criminal Court system.

 Charles Lukey: Private Investigator

Charles Lukey: Private InvestigatorPrivate Investigator BadgeCharles Lukey’s experience began many years ago as an investigative reporter where he ultimately became the recipient of the coveted U.P.I. News Investigator of the Year award. He later founded Gator Investigators and has since been the leading detective in many high profile cases arising out of Florida’s West Coast area. Although his organization is headquartered in in St. Petersburg, he has investigators strategically located throughout the entire State of Florida. His firm specializes in criminal, arson, and domestic issue investigations, but he is often retained in anticipation of civil litigation as well. Charles holds a Class A agency license, a Class C private investigator license (Florida’s highest level of licensure), a Class G statewide firearm license, a concealed weapons permit and a Master Mariner License. In addition to his past military experience, he holds various firefighting, first aid, and first responder certifications. Because of Mr. Lukey’s extensive investigative experience and varied background, he has been invaluable at times in uncovering exculpatory or mitigating evidence on behalf of our clients.

Rick Swope: Accident Reconstruction and DUI Consultant

Swope logoRick is an accident reconstruction specialist and DUI consultant. He is a former Sheriff’s Deputy and law enforcement instructor. He has been declared an expert in court over 600 times and provides effective testimony in connection with the operation and flaws of the Intoxilyzer 8000 breath testing machine.

Rick holds a Masters degree from the University of Miami in the area of Technology and Engineering. He has published numerous articles associated with breath testing, field sobriety tests and the investigation of accidents involving impaired drivers. Rick has been a featured speaker at Emory University, Harvard Law School, and at numerous other seminars and lectures across the United States.

Jill Weishaupt: Accountant and Client Billing

Jill Weishaupt, Accountant & Client Billing, Law Office of Russo & RussoSterling Payment TechnologiesJill attended the University of South Florida at the Tampa campus and majored in adult vocational education. She went on to be an instructor of floral design and marketing at Pinellas Education Center (PTEC). Jill later spent nearly twenty years at multi-national company FTD, where she served as a Business Consultant for over 400 retail floral shops. Today, Jill is a Sales Manager for Sterling Payment Technologies. At Russo & Russo, Jill is responsible for maintaining client trust accounts, paying for costs associated with their defense and keeping our clients up to date with respect to any financial obligations associated with their case.

Affinity Consulting Group:  Our IT Support

We take advantage of the latest technology in the management of our clients’ case. Affinity Consulting Group LogoAl Hill, Senior Network Consultant Affinity Consulting GroupAffinity Consulting Group provides our office with seamless and uninterrupted connectivity. This company limits its services to only small and mid-sized law firms. As a result, they have a unique background and expertise suitable to meeting the needs of the legal profession. Affinity Consulting Group enjoys an impressive reputation in the areas of telecom and data. Russo & Russo is pleased to have Senior Network Consultant, Al Hill overseeing their law office technology. is a Microsoft certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) with over ten years of technology experience. With his assistance, our office has the benefit of managed IT service, remote access and mobility, security and anti-virus protection, backup and recovery and voice over telecom. Our investment in technology has enabled us to take advantage of the following beneficial services for clients:

  • Immediate online access to your criminal court records held by the Pinellas Clerk of Court
  • Fully networked desktop workstations facilitate our “team approach” to defending your criminal charge
  • Dedicated widescreen video system for a thorough review of your DUI Field Sobriety Tests or other video evidence
  • Video conferencing as a convenience to our out-of-town clients
  • Highly secure and electronically monitored office security for the protection of your privacy and confidentiality
  • Direct access to your driving records held by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
  • Backup data service providers guarentees 24/7 access to all electronic record sources associated with your case
  • Remote access to our computer system and your case data from the courthouse or law library
  • Convenient smart-phone credit card system allows our clients to retain us for an untimely arrest or incarceration

 Answer First Communications: Staying In Touch With Your Attorney

Answer First Telephone ReceptionistanswfirstOur office employs Answer First Communications to insure that we are available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The professional staff at Answer First will take your information and promptly send a text message to the attorneys. This will insure that your call is returned quickly, after hours or on a weekend or holiday. Answer First has been serving law firms since 1985. The company built their Tampa Bay call center in 1999 and has maintained it with state of the art computer and telephony hardware. Their infrastructure entails both virtual and cloud based computer servers that guarantee stability and data redundancy. Messages from our clients are archived and available to us in real time through their web-based interface. Our twenty-year partnership with Answer First has allowed us to stay connected with both new and existing clients outside of regular business hours.

Forceworks: Our Microsoft Certified Cloud Computing Partner

ForceworksSteve_Mordue_ForceworksC.E.O. Steve Mordue and his team at Forceworks have equipped our office with state-of-the-art cloud computing and enterprise class document storage. By employing Office 365, our attorneys and staff can access case files, email, calendars and contact information from both inside and outside the office environment. Our implementation of MS SharePoint Online gives us the ability to secure information and work on your case from anywhere at any time. As a result, we can effectively and efficiently respond to emergency situations when they develop. If our client faces an arrest or a violation of probation outside of normal business hours, our partnership with Forceworks gives us instant access to information on any desktop, laptop or mobile device. Office 365 also features an accompanying “Lync” component.  When drafting important legal pleadings, we use Lync to work as a highly effective team by simultaneously viewing, discussing and editing the project in real time.

Southern Telephone Systems: Voice and Data Communications

Southern Telephone LogoLeslie_Fox_Southern Telephone SystemsThe ability to communicate with Judges, prosecutors and clients is the life blood of our law practice. In this regard, Leslie Fox of Southern Telephone Systems has served us well over the past two decades.  This local St. Petersburg company is management by second generation family members who provide us with 24/7 service. Our lawyers and support staff highly depend on advanced technology services that include:

  • VoIP communication systems;
  • Iwatsu Enterprise data hardware and networking;
  • Structured voice and data cabling;
  • Unified communications and voice mail solutions;
  • Conference calling that facilitates our teamwork approach to representing clients; and
  • Remote access to our phone and data service from outside our law office facilities

The premier services we secure from Southern Telephone Systems not only insures reliability with our communication needs, but also keeps us on the technological edge of products that can better serve the needs of our clients.

Our Office Locations
Main Office:
Baypoint Commerce Center
The Koger Building
Corner of 9th Street North & Gandy Blvd.
9721 Executive Center Drive North, Suite 120
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Consultations also available at:
Ulmerton Road and 58th Street North
The Summit Building
Clearwater, Florida 33760