TAMPA — The federal bribery trial of former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White will be delayed until Oct. 31.
U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore on Wednesday granted a bid by White's attorney to delay the trial so he can better prepare a defense attacking the credibility of co-defendant George Hondrellis.
The trial had been scheduled to begin on Monday.
Hondrellis could be tried separately at a later date, the judge decided, because he is in federal custody awaiting a 30-day mental health evaluation after his attorneys told a judge he is delusional and mentally incompetent.
Attorney Grady Irvin Jr. told Whittemore the recent revelation that Hondrellis has mental health issues potentially changes his trial strategy in White's defense. Whittemore, after examining a Sept. 13 psychiatric report on Hondrellis, said he saw one issue in the report that Irvin will want to investigate. The judge said it related to a potential witness in the case. But the report is under seal, and the judge did not identity the person. The report says Hondrellis has a preliminary diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, the judge said.
Prosecutors say Hondrellis initiated talks of bribing White to win his influence in obtaining a towing license for a new company to be controlled by Hondrellis and a government informer.
White was indicted in June on 10 felony charges, including bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and lying to an FBI agent. Hondrellis was indicted on identical charges, except for lying to the FBI.
Prosecutors say White and his late father schemed to collect $8,000 in bribes and a 2003 Lincoln Navigator while White served on the Public Transportation Commission before losing re-election in November.
Reach William R. Levesque at email@example.com or (813) 226-3432.