George Hondrellis, co-defendant in former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White’s corruption case, has been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial. According to the federal magistrate on the case, Hondrellis will be treated for his mental condition for at least four months and likely will be medicated.
Hondrellis is accused of conspiring with White in a bribery scheme. He underwent a psychological evaluation at a Miami medical facility. Neither defense attorneys nor prosecutors disputed the results of the evaluation, which indicated that Hondrellis needed more treatment.
At a hearing in September, the court indicated that Hondrellis was a paranoid schizophrenic with a history of violence. Hondrellis was ordered to be taken into custody immediately for a mental evaluation at that time.
Investigators have said Hondrellis, in the presence of aconfidential informant, gave White (who was chairman of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission at the time) and his father, Gerald White, money to obtain towing certificates, putting Hondrellis’ towing company on a rotation list used by law enforcement.
In November, White was found guilty of seven out of 10 counts in the public corruption case. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five to 15 years.
Competence to stand trial is different from an insanity defense. When a person claims to be not guilty by reason of insanity, the defense must prove a particular state of mind at the time of the crime. When a person is suggested to be incompetent to stand trial, the court will look at the defendant’s mental condition at the time of trial – regardless of his or her mental condition at the time of the crime.
The court shall grant a motion to determine the defendant’s competency (or shall order such a hearing on its own motion) if there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant may presently be suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.