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Convictions will strip Kevin White of investigative licenses

TAMPA — Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White faces more than a possible prison term after his conviction on federal public corruption charges this week.

He also likely will lose his ability to work as a private investigator with a security firm, his current profession. And he won't be able to carry a gun.

Convicted felons are not allowed to have private investigator licenses in the state of Florida. White currently holds three licenses related to the field, one as a private investigator, another allowing him to carry a gun as part of that work and a third to manage an investigative and security firm.

Each license is subject to revocation immediately after his conviction, said Ken Rutledge, immediate past president of the Florida Association of Private Investigators. While a state statute governing such licenses contemplates the ability to apply for reinstatement 10 years after the end of supervision, securing a license after a felony conviction is "next to impossible," he said.

"He's effectively out of the business as an investigator," said Rutledge of Lakeland.

Similarly, state law prohibits felons from obtaining a concealed weapons permit. White, 46, a Democrat and former Tampa police officer, has said in the past he routinely carries a handgun, sometimes more than one.

The subject came up after White acknowledged carrying guns to work with him at County Center, though a policy prohibits other people from having firearms in the building. White said he needed the guns to protect himself from people whom he arrested in the past who might seek to harm him.

Sterling Ivey, spokesman for the Florida Department of Agriculture, which oversees investigator licenses and concealed weapons permits, said the division is regularly updated on convictions in state court. The department responds to federal convictions as it learns of them.

"We'll suspend the license of the permit holder," he said. "Then, of course, they're flagged in our system if they try to reapply."

White formed his company, Icon Security Solutions, in the runup to the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa, pitching limousine rides with security protection for bigwigs. It was initially located in a storefront in the same building that houses the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which was at the center of his payoffs-for-tow-truck-certificates trial.

The business has since closed at that location and state records lists its current address as his home in Riverview.

Private investigators must serve internships and take 40 hours of training coursework and pass a test in order to obtain a license. The license gives them access to some records not available to the broader public.

Honesty and ethics are important in the field, said Mark Feegel, the current president of FAPI and owner of Feegel & Associates of St. Petersburg. A prohibition against convicted felons helps maintain professionalism and integrity in the profession, he said.

"We wouldn't accept them in our association," Feegel said. "I would never hire them."

White was convicted on seven counts last week, including bribery, conspiracy and wire fraud. He was soundly defeated in a re-election bid last year that followed a federal jury's finding that he sexually harassed a former aide.

The county is suing him to recoup some of the more than $400,000 in legal bills amassed in that trial. White has said he is too broke to pay.

An attempt to reach him was unsuccessful.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

Convictions will strip Kevin White of investigative licenses 11/11/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2011 12:07am]
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