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Judge denies Kevin White's bid to remain free pending appeal

TAMPA — A federal judge has rejected former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White's bid to remain free pending an appeal of his convictions on bribery and corruption charges.

U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore said White is not entitled to release on bond pending appeal "because he has not presented a substantial question of law that is likely to result in success on appeal."

A jury convicted White in November on 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 Public Transportation Commission, which he chaired.

The judge last month sentenced White to three years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.

White, 47, will remain free until the U.S. Bureau of Prisons gives him a date to surrender. A bureau spokesman said the agency will not confirm that date until White has actually been taken into custody.

White's attorney, Grady Irvin Jr., said in an earlier motion that "there are meritorious issues to appeal" that could result in a reversal of White's convictions.

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

But Whittemore said in his ruling Friday that White served as PTC chair by virtue of his position as a county commissioner. White also was accused of trying to influence the Hills­borough Sheriff's Office on behalf of individuals who had paid him a bribe for help getting a PTC towing license.

Since Hillsborough County itself gets federal funding, the circumstances "demonstrate a sufficient nexus between the bribes White received and the business of Hillsborough County," the judge said.

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.

Judge denies Kevin White's bid to remain free pending appeal 04/09/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 9, 2012 11:59pm]
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