Another defense attorney accused of smuggling drugs to inmates

By Nick R. Martin | September 20th, 2009 | 1:49 am | No Comments »

Phoenix attorney David De Costa was arrested Friday on suspicion of smuggling drugs to prisoners.

Exclusive: If you follow the news very closely, the case might sound familiar: a Valley defense arrested on suspicion of smuggling drugs to prisoners.

The same thing happened less than a year ago to a Tempe lawyer who was caught smuggling for the Mexican Mafia.

This time around, though, the suspect is 42-year-old David De Costa, a Phoenix attorney who began a solo practice earlier this year, not long after leaving the made-for-TV firm of Phillips and Associates.

Few details about his arrest are public so far, but records show De Costa was picked up Friday by Phoenix police and was being held in a Maricopa County jail on suspicion of four felonies, including smuggling contraband behind bars and transporting a dangerous drug.

He was being held on a $100,000 cash bond.

The website of the State Bar of Arizona, which oversees attorneys in the state, shows that De Costa’s license to practice law was put on probation for 20 months from February 2006 to October 2007. The site does not say why.

While very little is known about the details of De Costa’s suspected crimes, the case has a few immediate similarities to the arrest of the Tempe attorney last year.

Defense lawyer Jason Keller, 35, was collared by Phoenix police in October 2008 for sneaking heroin and cell phones into the county jails for clients who were members of the Mexican Mafia.

Quickly after his arrest, Keller admitted what he had done. This August, he took a plea deal from the state Attorney General’s Office and is scheduled to be sentenced later this year. Keller is behind bars, suspended from practicing law and likely facing disbarment along with several years in prison.