Dukes charged with violating terms of order

His estranged wife says he phoned to speak with their kids.

Published August 3, 2007

TAMPA - The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office charged troubled Devil Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes on Thursday with violating his estranged wife's protective order.

The charge is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, prosecutor Douglas Covington said.

Dukes' wife, NiShea Gilbert, told a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy that Dukes phoned her home July 21 and asked to speak to their children, which is prohibited by the protective order.

The next day, a woman who was believed to be affiliated with Dukes, 23, made several harassing phone calls to her home, Gilbert said.

Gilbert's lawyer, Catherine Real, urged her to contact Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies and report the incident.

Calls to Dukes' attorney, Wes Trombley, were not returned.

Gilbert sought the protective order in May after she said Dukes threatened the life of her and their children. The order bars Dukes from contacting her for a year. She has also filed for divorce.

Also Thursday, Trombley asked a judge for a delay in his client's misdemeanor marijuana case. Hillsborough County Judge John Conrad granted the request and set a new hearing for Sept. 27.

Dukes was charged with marijuana possession after he was pulled over by Tampa police Jan. 15 in Ybor City. A drug-sniffing dog reacted to his car, and authorities said a search revealed a bag with about 2 grams of the drug in a center console. Trombley has argued the charge should be dropped because Dukes' brother, Willie Evans, a passenger, said the marijuana was his and pleaded no contest to a possession charge.

The Rays put Dukes on the temporary inactive list in June. He was optioned to Class A Vero Beach with the agreement that he will receive his $380,000 major-league salary.

Carrie Weimar can be reached at weimar@sptimes.com or 813 226-3416.