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Ex-Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White wants to remain free during appeal

TAMPA — Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White is asking a federal judge to allow him to stay out of prison pending an appeal of his convictions on bribery and corruption charges.

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore sentenced White to three years in prison on March 12 but allowed him to remain free until the U.S. Bureau of Prisons gives him a date to turn himself in. Bureau officials say they will not release that report date to the public.

White's attorney, Grady Irvin Jr., said White has not yet received a report date from the bureau.

In a motion filed on Thursday, Irvin said "there are meritorious issues to appeal" that could result in a reversal of White's convictions.

Among other issues, Irvin argues that the Public Transportation Commission, which White chaired at a time he received bribes, got no federal funding. Absent federal funding, federal charges cannot stand, Irvin said.

But U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill has argued that the Hillsborough County Commission does get federal funding, and White got the Public Transportation Commission chairmanship by virtue of his seat on the commission. Whittemore rejected Irvin's argument at trial in November.

Irvin said in his motion that the court can allow a defendant to remain free pending appeal if the court finds that the defendant poses no danger to the public and is unlikely to flee. The court must also find that an appeal raises substantial questions of law likely to result in a reversal.

The motion notes that O'Neill opposes White's remaining free pending appeal.

A jury convicted White in November of seven charges that included wire fraud, bribery and lying to the FBI. Prosecutors said White directly accepted at least $6,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman seeking White's influence on the transportation commission.

The transportation commission regulates vehicles for hire, including tow trucks. A commission license was required before a tow company could win a lucrative place on a list of companies used by law enforcement. Prosecutors said White essentially put his influence on the transportation commission up for sale.

William R. Levesque can be reached at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432.

Ex-Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White wants to remain free during appeal 03/23/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 23, 2012 10:32pm]

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