Former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White
TAMPA, Florida -- Disgraced former County Commissioner Kevin White is moving closer to becoming a millionaire, even though he is serving time in a federal prison for accepting a bribe.
A federal magistrate's ruling is the reason White is closer to walking out of prison a millionaire.
It has nothing to do with White's bribery conviction and everything to do with a federal case where White was accused of sexually harassing his former aide, Alyssa Ogden.
White claimed because he was a county employee doing his job when he was accused of sexual harassment, the county's insurance policy was required to pay all of his attorney fees, as well as the $75,000 the court awarded Ogden.
State Nation and Star Insurance, which held the policy for Hillsborough County, argued they were under no obligation to cover White for his indiscretions. However, the former county commissioner sued, and a federal court ordered the insurance company to pay his defense lawyers $157,000 in legal fees.
Once White won that suit, his appellate attorney, Michael Laurato, filed for his fees and, once again, the insurance company said it did not have to pay. A federal magistrate ruled that White's appellate attorney Laurato deserved another $193,000. In addition, the court awarded Laurato interest, and that's expected to come to a quarter of a million dollars.
Now that opens the door for White to file what's called a "bad faith claim" against the insurance company for trying to avoid covering him. Traditionally, courts have made huge awards on bad faith claims into the millions of dollars to make sure insurance companies feel the pain when they fail pay up on their insurance claims. Laurato said he believes this latest federal ruling gives him reason to believe the jailed former county commissioner may end up a millionaire.