Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White checked into a federal prison camp in Atlanta on Wednesday, 10 weeks after he was sentenced to three years for taking bribes.
White, 47, surrendered to authorities with the federal Bureau of Prisons at a minimum-security prison camp. The camp is a satellite of the larger, higher-security U.S. Prison Atlanta. White arrived just before noon, according to his attorney, Grady Irvin.
If White earns the maximum allowed sentence reduction for good behavior, he will be out in about two years and three months, or late summer 2014. He has appealed his conviction.
"Our hope is we will be successful on appeal," Irvin said, "and if that's the case, his release date will be much sooner than that."
White's imprisonment is the last chapter in a saga that started in the fall of 2009 when the FBI began investigating the county's Public Transportation Committee at the suggestion of Peter Rockefeller, owner of a wrecker company. White, who chaired the committee, soon became a target of investigators.
During the probe, White and his father, Gerald, were recorded on audio and video, soliciting and accepting bribes from a confidential informant and an undercover FBI agent. Gerald White died May 23 of last year.
In November, a federal jury found White guilty on seven of 10 counts of public corruption. He was sentenced March 14 to three years in prison and three years of probation. He also had to pay back $9,000 in bribes he took from the FBI and $8,200 in fines and fees.
It's not clear why it took two and a half months for White to report to prison after he was sentenced. U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill, who prosecuted White, said the Bureau of Prisons usually designates a date and place for the convicted felon to report.
However, Chris Burke, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons, said the agency had designated the place where White was to serve his sentence but not the date. Burke said usually the judge who sentences the convicted person sets the reporting date.
White's judgment order, signed by U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore, has blanks next to the spaces where a time and date are to be specified for White to report to an institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons.
The order does say White was to surrender to the U.S. marshal for this federal court district "as notified" by the marshal.
Ron Lindbak, a spokesman for the marshal's office, said marshals did not transport White to prison and did not designate the date for him to surrender.
The span of time between sentencing and imprisonment can range anywhere from a couple of days to a month and a half, said Burke, the Bureau of Prisons spokesman. The two and a half months it took to imprison White was "probably on the longer end of the scale," he said.
"It's not the longest time it's ever taken," Burke said.
A judge may delay an imprisonment date to satisfy a request by the guilty party, Burke said. In White's case, the judge granted his request to travel to Tallahassee the weekend of April 27 for his daughter's college graduation. But there's nothing in court documents to indicate that the trip pushed back the date he was to report to prison.
Federal prison camps have dormitory housing, a relatively low staff-to-inmate ratio and limited or no perimeter fencing, according to the Bureau of Prisons website. The camps are usually adjacent to larger institutions or military bases where the prison camp inmates can work.
While in prison, White can take advantage of education and recreational programs, including softball, basketball, volleyball and arts and crafts. He can also earn money by working, but some of that money must go toward the restitution he owes the government.