Former Lynn Haven city manager to change plea in fraud case
LYNN HAVEN — Former City Manager Michael White has become the second major player indicted in a corruption scandal that rocked the city to offer to change a previously entered plea of not guilty.
White is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee Feb. 27. David White, no relation, the owner of Erosion Control Specialist, is slated to change his not guilty plea Feb. 25.
“That’s true. He’s going to plead guilty to certain counts,” said Barry Beroset, Michael White’s attorney.
An effort to reach White by email was unsuccessful.
The two are among five indicted in November following an investigation conducted by a Public Trust Unit established by Larry Keefe, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Michael White and David White are both accused of conspiring to steal over $5 million from the city of Lynn Haven in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. The 35-count indictment includes charges of theft, wire fraud and conspiracy.
David White and his company were awarded a contract for emergency debris removal just days after the hurricane hit. The funds the group was charged with misappropriating were city dollars scheduled to be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
David White and Michael White each face charges of falsifying federal documents.
Michael White as city manager would sign invoices presented by David White “which were false and fraudulent as to a number of material matters,” the indictment stated.
In return for assisting in the theft of funds, Michael White received bribes and kick backs, the indictment said.
Indicted alongside Michael White and David White were David Horton, Lynn Haven’s then-community services director, Joshua Anderson, the owner of a company called Greenleaf Lawn Care of Bay County, and Shannon Rodriguez, David White’s sister.
Michael White was hired by the city of Lynn Haven in July of 2017 to serve in the dual capacities of city manager and city clerk. Three months later, he eliminated the job of leisure services director and took over the duties of that department head.
Many of the invoices he signed for Greenleaf Lawn Care and ECS were paid through the Leisure Services Department.
Michael White lost his job in March of 2019 following a violent domestic incident involving his wife. A month later, the FBI swooped in on Lynn Haven with subpoenas for documents related to Michael White, ECS and Greenleaf Lawn Care.