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Judge Stringer's ethics inquiry is delayed

TAMPA — A state commission will meet next week to discuss whether it should continue pursuing ethics charges against Judge Thomas E. Stringer Sr. now that he has resigned from the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Stringer, 64, was scheduled to give a deposition Friday to state Judicial Qualifications Commission prosecutors about his financial dealings with a stripper. But Brooke Kennerly, executive director of the JQC, said Wednesday that Stringer's deposition had been canceled, pending further talks by the commission on how it wants to proceed.

Despite his resignation Tuesday, Stringer could still face a reprimand, a fine or discipline by the Supreme Court if the JQC recommends he be punished, said Gregory R. Miller, a prosecutor for the JQC.

The potential for the ethics charges to disappear doesn't sit well with Christy Yamanaka, the 48-year-old New York City stripper at the center of the JQC's probe.

"I firmly believe they should go forward," Yamanaka said Wednesday.

She has said the FBI also is investigating the case. An FBI spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on a possible investigation into Stringer.

Last year, the judge denied any wrongdoing after Yamanaka told reporters he owed her money from an investment on property they shared in Hawaii.

The ethics charges accuse Stringer of providing the stripper with access to bank accounts opened in his name so she could hide assets and income from creditors.

The JQC also has said Stringer leased an apartment for Yamanaka and allowed her to pay rent in cash. According to the charges, the judge failed to report as gifts on his financial disclosure filings a Mercedes that Yamanaka gave him and when she paid for him to stay at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Stringer to the 2nd DCA in February 1999. He heard cases from 14 counties, including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco.

Kevin Graham can be reached at kgraham@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Judge Stringer's ethics inquiry is delayed 02/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:51pm]
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