Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy) | St. Petersburg Times
Sorting out the truth in politics

Kathleen Ford is right about former St. Petersburg employee

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford was asked recently which city department is the least efficient, or needs additional oversight.

After a brief pause, she offered this:

"I have some concerns about purchasing," Ford said at Monday's St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 forum. "There are so many city contracts. Millions and millions and millions of dollars are spent.

"When I was on council, someone in purchasing hired a convicted felon who embezzled funds from a bank," Ford continued. "Somehow that was missed. We need to have better contracts management."

Ford, a 52-year-old attorney, says her administration would focus on details in a way past administrations have not and offers the city's hiring of someone convicted of embezzling bank funds as an example of a lax City Hall.

Did it happen? Yes.

Erroyl C. Bing pleaded guilty in 1982 to one count of embezzlement in Tampa federal court.

According to news accounts from the time, Bing stole about $250,000 from the bank accounts of Florida Power Corp., General Telephone, the city of St. Petersburg and Times Publishing Co.

He admitted much of his wrongdoing — in court he said the money helped feed a cocaine habit — and was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

A little more than 10 years later, the city of St. Petersburg made him the city's warehouse manager.

The city never performed a background check when it hired Bing in 1995, city officials admitted. The check likely would have uncovered the arrest.

And what became of Bing?

In 1999, he was arrested after police said he defrauded the city of almost $270,000. Police said Bing created a fake company that billed the city for goods the company never provided. Bing was able to keep the scam going for two years, police said.

In 2000, Bing was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to state records.

After the incident, the city changed its policy and performed background checks on hundreds of its employees.

We should point out that Ford didn't join the City Council until 1997, two years after Bing was hired. But we thought that's immaterial to the point Ford is trying to make.

We should also note that while an electronic record of Bing's 1982 conviction is not available, officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa said they believed Bing's conviction to be a felony, not a misdemeanor.

So Ford is right: The city did hire someone who had been convicted of embezzling from a bank and that person was later convicted of stealing from the city. We should note, however, that the city has since implemented a policy of performing background checks on employees. We find Ford's claim True.

Times staff researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.

The statement

"When I was on council, someone in purchasing hired a convicted felon who embezzled funds from a bank."

Kathleen Ford, at a mayoral forum Monday

The ruling

She wasn't yet on the City Council when the city hired Erroyl C. Bing. But she's right about his past. Bing served 18 months in federal prison for stealing from a bank where he worked. He went on to steal about $270,000 from the city. We find Ford's claim True.

Kathleen Ford is right about former St. Petersburg employee 10/15/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 16, 2009 1:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bill Nelson knocks Rick Scott over Senate health bill


    Sen. Bill Nelson attacked Gov. Rick Scott, his likely 2018 rival, over today's trip to Washington.

  2. For starters: Rays at Pirates, with Hechavarria active, Robertson sent down


    UPDATE, 3:09: Rays have activated Hechavarria and sent down Robertson.

    Also, C Derek Norris was released; he had been DFA'd last week.

    The stellar view from the press box at PNC Park.
  3. LaVar Ball appears at WWE event, son LaMelo uses slur


    LOS ANGELES  -- LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring. 
    The outspoken father of NBA Draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly-minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old son LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday's "WWE …

    LaVar Ball took off his shirt during a WWE broadcast.
  4. Facing defections, Senate GOP leaders delay health care vote


    WASHINGTON — In a bruising setback, Senate Republican leaders are delaying a vote on their prized health care bill until after the July 4 recess, forced to retreat by a GOP rebellion that left them lacking enough votes to even begin debating the legislation, two sources said Tuesday.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., center, talks with his chief of staff Sharon Soderstrom, right, and communications staff director Antonia Ferrier, left, as they walk to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 26, 2017. Senate Republicans unveil a revised health care bill in hopes of securing support from wavering GOP lawmakers, including one who calls the drive to whip his party's bill through the Senate this week "a little offensive." [Associated Press]
  5. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    Former Florida Gov. and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their condo in downtown St. Petersburg on the market for $1.5 million. [Courtesy of Rhonda Sanderford]