TAMPA — Attorneys for George Hondrellis, a codefendant in the federal bribery case involving former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White, reiterated concerns to a judge Friday about Hondrellis's mental competency.
But when they asked to discuss the issue privately, U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore told the attorneys that they needed to file a formal motion to address any issues in the case before the Sept. 26 trial.
"It's very difficult for us to prepare this case because of the condition of the client," attorney Todd Foster told the judge, providing no additional details about the nature of Hondrellis's mental health.
Defense attorneys added that their office had also not yet completed their review of 162 audio recordings provided to them by prosecutors, which was the basis for their request earlier this week to delay the trial — a request the judge denied.
Whittemore advised the attorneys to finalize any additional motions in the case before next Friday in order to give prosecutors time to respond by Sept. 23.
White was indicted in June on federal corruption charges alleging that he and his late father, Gerald White, took $8,000 in bribes and a 2003 Lincoln Navigator from three men, including Hondrellis, owner of Tampa City Towing.
The three men said they wanted a permit from the county Public Transportation Commission, which White chaired, to be put on a lucrative list of towing companies doing work for the Tampa Police Department and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, prosecutors allege. One of the men turned out to be an undercover FBI agent and another a government informer.
White has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges, including bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and lying to an FBI agent. Hondrellis, who has also pleaded not guilty, faces identical charges, except for lying to the FBI.