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Ruth: Kevin White, public service is an honor not an honorarium

Kevin White was always a perp walk waiting to happen.

Call it a twisted sixth sense, but anyone who deals with government and especially elected officials for any length of time begins to cultivate an uncanny intuition over which pol will eventually wind up using their booking photo on their yard signs.

And from the very moment Kevin White announced he wanted to run for the Tampa City Council and then eventually the Hillsborough County Commission, you could tell it would be only a matter of time before this guy would be No. 1 — with a bullet — on the FBI's Top 10 wiretap recordings.

Some pols wake up every morning humming Hail to the Chief. Kevin White rehearsed the Folsom Prison Blues. He shot his public career at Ruth's Chris Steak House, just to watch it die.

And now it has truly come down to a matter of time.

Monday, White will stand before U.S. District Judge James Whittemore to learn his fate after being convicted of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and lying to the FBI. Naughty lad. This won't be pretty. Federal sentencing guidelines range between 41 and 51 months in the slammer, although Whittemore could impose a term above or below those numbers.

If you're a betting person, don't bother taking the under.

White faces the joys of cell block life, because while serving on the commission he engaged in a shakedown of a tow truck driver over several steak house repasts.

Apparently it never occurred to White that an added guest at the bribe du jour could possibly be an FBI informer who was more wired up than the space shuttle.

For that alone, White deserves to do plenty of time merely for being denser than the Mariana Trench.

And now White will learn as he stands before the peeved Whittemore that public service is supposed to be an honor, not an honorarium.

Whether it was the attempt to write off his fancy suits as a campaign expense, or his tawdry exercise in trying to seduce a comely assistant, or his rather declasse defense he was really acting as a procurer of sexual favors for an aging and ill prominent black businessman, Kevin White always has oozed sleaziness.

And now he has grabbed the brass ring of graft.

Originally Whittemore had set aside 30 minutes for White's sentencing, which was about 29 minutes too long. Alas, White's mouthpiece, Grady Irvin Jr., asked the court for an additional 90 minutes so he could call on as many as 15 character witnesses, which has to be a bit like asking people to testify that aside from that minor detail of embezzling all that money and destroying countless lives, Bernie Madoff was really a prince of a chap.

Besides, doesn't one actually have to have some character before others can attest to it? Really now, Irvin could call the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the College of Cardinals, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi to sing White's praises and it still wouldn't knock so much as an hour off his sentence.

Indeed, White and Irvin seem almost obsessive-compulsive in trying to test Whittemore's patience. Days ago, they asked the court to provide a Spanish translator so White's in-laws can better hear what a lowlife his long-suffering wife married.

About the only words the Hispanic side of the family needs to hear about Kevin White is: Estas frito, or You're toast. And oh yes, one more thing: Ba-bye.

Ruth: Kevin White, public service is an honor not an honorarium 03/10/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 10, 2012 3:30am]
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