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Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
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Kevin White's co-defendant pleads not guilty

TAMPA - A towing company owner today pleaded not guilty to bribing former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White to get preferential treatment from the board that regulates his industry. An attorney for George Hondrellis entered the pleas during an arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Thomas G. Wilson. Hondrellis and White face nine charges including bribery and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. White also is charged with lying to an FBI agent. White entered similar not guilty pleas at his arraignment last week.
Wilson gave Hondrellis additional time to hire a lawyer. While White maintained he was too poor to afford a private attorney and had the court appoint him one, Hondrellis hired one of the area's most high-profile firms: Cohen, Foster & Romine, headed by Barry Cohen. Chinwe Fossett represented Hondrellis at today's arraignment. White and Hondrellis were indicted and arrested last month. Hondrellis is charged with buying off White while the commissioner was chairman of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission in order to get a towing certificate. The certificate is required if a company wants a profitable spot on the rotations used by the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Wilson scheduled a status conference for Hondrellis for July 15 before U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore. Wilson also set the case for trial on Whittemore's August docket, though such initial trial dates routinely are continued. tbrennan@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7698
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