TAMPA — Attorneys representing a towing company owner in the federal corruption case of former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White are asking for a delay in his upcoming trial.
Attorneys for George Hondrellis, owner of Tampa City Towing, said in a motion filed Tuesday they do not have enough time before the Sept. 26 trial to review 162 audio recordings provided to them by prosecutors.
Attorney Chinwe Fossett also told U.S. District Court Judge James D. Whittemore that the defense needs to investigate "facts regarding mental health of defendant." Fossett said learning more of these "personal issues" is critical to defending Hondrellis.
The motion provides no details about these issues, and Hondrellis' attorneys asked that they be able to provide details to the judge in private, with any record of the discussion placed under seal.
Fossett and co-counsel Todd Foster also note they have a trial that opened this week that may last two to three weeks, further affecting their ability to prepare for Hondrellis' trial.
The motion, which is unopposed by White's attorney and federal prosecutors, seeks a trial delay until November.
White has pleaded not guilty to 10 felony 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. The indictment said White and his late father, Gerald White, schemed to take $8,000 in bribes and a 2003 Lincoln Navigator from three men, one of whom was Hondrellis. The charges carry maximum sentences ranging from five to 20 years in prison.
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, an indictment said. Unknown to White, who was once a Tampa City Council member and a police officer, one of the men was a federal agent and another a government informer. White left office in November after being trounced in a Democratic primary.
Reach William R. Levesque at email@example.com or (813) 226-3432.