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Ethics panel dismisses case against former Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White

TALLAHASSEE — Already headed to federal prison for three years, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White got a break from the Florida Commission on Ethics on Friday.

The panel voted 4-3 to dismiss his case because White no longer poses a threat to the public. The commission found probable cause a year ago that White was involved in a voting conflict and sexually harassed an aide.

"His name is forever besmirched," said chairman Robert Sniffen at a meeting in the state Capitol.

Commissioners decided it would waste taxpayer money to proceed, since a jury convicted White on seven charges in November, including wire fraud, bribery and lying to the FBI.

A judge in March sentenced White to three years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

A Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency cannot release the date that White, 47, will be taken into custody.

White's arrest came after he agreed to a $6,000 bribe to influence the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission he chaired, according to prosecutors. The businessman making the deal was an undercover FBI agent.

The ethics commission typically drops cases against people who face larger judicial troubles.

But Commissioner Jean Larsen, who voted against dropping the White case, said she's concerned the former commissioner won't have the ethics panel ruling on his record.

"I have been a victim of sexual harassment, and I have investigated sexual harassment," she said. "While I don't see the point in expending resources to pursue it, I am not in favor of voting to dismiss it."

Mark Herron, the attorney representing White, told commissioners his client already faces the worst possible punishment.

"This is in no way a victory for Mr. White," he said.

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at bdavis@tampabay.com.

Ethics panel dismisses case against former Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White 05/04/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 4, 2012 11:57pm]

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