Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

Ex-Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White gets prison time for corruption

TAMPA

They came together to praise Kevin White as the loving father, the dutiful son, the doting husband.

But it wasn't the father, the husband or the son who was sentenced Monday to three years of federal prison. It was White the corrupt former Hillsborough County commissioner.

"They don't consider you a criminal," U.S. District Court Judge James Whittemore told White, referring to his family. "Unfortunately, you are. The jury has spoken."

Whittemore sentenced White to a prison term followed by three years of supervised release on federal bribery and corruption charges after an emotional 90-minute hearing. The judge also ordered White to complete 300 hours of community service and pay a $7,500 fine.

White, 47, who lives in Riverview, wiped tears from his eyes when family spoke on his behalf, but he displayed no reaction as the judge imposed sentence.

Dressed in a dark, pin-striped suit, White sat for much of the hearing with his hands clasped on the table in front of him, as if he were in prayer.

White's sentencing marks the end of a tumultuous political career that took him to the Tampa City Council in 2003, then the Hillsborough County Commission, and finally to a prison cell.

It's a career that saw numerous controversies, from campaign funds being used to buy expensive suits to accusations he sexually harassed a female aide.

The judge said White, who lost a bid for re-election to the County Commission in 2010, can report to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons later, rather than be taken into custody now. A date is not yet set.

Whittemore said White's case was an ugly reminder of corruption on the Hillsborough commission in the 1980s. That's when a grand jury labeled the County Commission an "ongoing criminal enterprise" and three commissioners were accused of taking bribes in zoning cases.

Whittemore, looking out at a courtroom with about 30 of White's family and friends, said he read 72 letters in support of White.

"They spoke volumes about a side of you the public doesn't know about," he said. But the judge said White's illegal acts "overshadowed all the good you have done for your constituents."

White was convicted in November on seven charges, including conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud, after a trial where jurors heard evidence that he directly took $6,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman. The agent said he wanted White's influence as chairman of the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission.

White, as a commissioner, served as the chair of the PTC, which regulates vehicles for hire. PTC approval was necessary before a towing company could be placed on a lucrative list of tow trucks used by law enforcement.

But White was caught in an elaborate sting. Jurors saw one video of White accepting $5,000 in cash, evidence that a juror said mesmerized the panel and proved damning to the defense.

White did not testify at trial and has remained largely silent about his case. But at his sentencing, he apologized.

White touched on the complex legacy of his father, Gerald White, whom his lawyers said would have been charged with his son but for his death in 2011. The elder White is heard on secret recordings participating in the bribery scheme, prosecutors said.

Kevin White suggested his father, who had served time in prison as a younger man, may have led him astray.

White, who was born out of wedlock and was essentially disowned by the father's side of his family, said "my life started to go downhill" after he tried to forge a connection with his father.

"I always wanted a relationship with my father," he said. "But I see where that's gotten me."

But he conceded, "This isn't about him today. It's about me."

Family members asked that White not be sent to prison because of his many good deeds. White's two children, who are both in college, and his wife, Jennie White, spoke briefly.

Sheryl O'Neal, White's mother, said her son wasn't the bad person portrayed by the media.

"I am the proud mother of Kevin White," she said. "He's not a criminal. He hasn't killed anybody. He's not a drug addict. He's not an alcoholic. He's Kevin White."

Grady Irvin Jr., White's attorney, asked the judge to impose a sentence below the advisory sentencing guidelines, which in this case were 41 to 51 months.

"He understands he has to be held accountable for his actions," Irvin said. "His life has been a public life. The bad is out there ... This isn't the media's fault. He's here because it's his fault."

The statutory maximum in White's case was 20 years, though U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill asked only for a guideline sentence.

"Mr. White violated the public trust," O'Neill said. "He utilized his office for private gain."

In sentencing White, Whittemore complimented him on his two "beautiful children" and reassured White that his family will always love him.

"One thing we learn in this business is that children are resilient," the judge said. Referring to White's rocky relationship with his father, Whittemore added, "You probably know that better than anyone."

Staff writer Jodie Tillman contributed to this report. William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432.

Comments
Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

Lightning falls to Wild, its fifth loss in seven games

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Lightning said all the right things about needing to look in the mirror and do some soul-searching during its recent funk. Veterans said they had to lead the way. Coach Jon Cooper believed this eight-game trip would "show us wha...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

Florida wins big SEC showdown with Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Jalen Hudson came off the bench to score 17, and Chris Chiozza, Keith Stone and Kevarrius Hayes contributed clutch baskets down the stretch as Florida rallied to upset No. 18 Kentucky 66-64 Saturday night. "We were able to win it jus...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week."I most definitely ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — With less than a week to install a playbook, offenses can have it tough in college showcase games.And for 58 minutes on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown.But...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

Tampa Bay jobs chief Ed Peachey making top dollar

For years, Edward Peachey has bragged about the number of jobless people he has helped find work.As president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay, he’s in charge of the two main government agencies that provide training to the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

WEEKI WACHEE — The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday investigated the death of a Hillsborough County man in the Eagle’s Nest, an underwater network of caves where at least 11 others have died since 1981.Even experienced divers have lost th...
Updated: 8 hours ago
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

Florida’s dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Updated: 9 hours ago
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown won’t slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Tampa Bay is finally clear of the bitter chill that covered the region this week as temperatures picked up on Saturday. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around t...
Published: 01/20/18