Court of Appeals Upholds Former County Commissioner’s Bribery Convictions
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 31, 2014|
TAMPA—United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit today affirmed the convictions and sentence of former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White for his role in a bribery scheme. White had been convicted after a jury trial of bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit both fraud and bribery. In March 2012, he was sentenced to a total of three years’ imprisonment.
In 2009 and 2010, while White was a Hillsborough County Commissioner, he also served as chairman of the county’s Public Transportation Commission, which was responsible for certifying towing companies to work for county law-enforcement agencies. The evidence at trial showed that White had received cash bribes from persons who wanted the commission to certify their towing companies and help them get hired by local law-enforcement agencies. White’s father, Gerald White, also participated in the scheme; he urged the towing companies to pay bribes, insisting that White could help them out if they helped out the Whites. Unbeknownst to the Whites, the men they met with were an FBI informant and an undercover FBI special agent. In a series of meetings, many of which were recorded, both White and Gerald White received thousands of dollars in cash bribes from the informant and from the agent. In addition to the cash bribes, Gerald White demanded and received from the informant a Lincoln Navigator SUV.
At Kevin White’s trial, the jury found White guilty of seven counts. White’s father (Gerald) did not go to trial, as he had died in the meantime. White appealed his convictions and his sentence to the Court of Appeals in Atlanta. He argued that the evidence at trial had been insufficient to support his convictions because the Public Transportation Commission receives no federal funds and the federal bribery statute applies only to agents of agencies that receive at least $10,000 in federal funds annually. The Court of Appeals rejected White’s argument, pointing out that White also was acting as an agent of the Hillsborough County Commission when he solicited and took the bribes, and Hillsborough County receives millions of dollars in federal funds each year. As the court explained, “Ample evidence supports White’s convictions for bribery and conspiracy to bribe.”
White also challenged his three-year sentence, arguing that the sentencing court should not have taken into account the SUV that his father had received and should not have increased his sentence based on his status as an elected public official. The Court of Appeals rejected those arguments as well and upheld White’s three-year sentence.
This appeal was handled by Assistant United States Attorney David Rhodes, Chief of the Office’s Appellate Division.