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Former boxing regulator's ethics case dragging on

By BILL VARIAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 15, 2002

TAMPA -- A 3-year-old ethics inquiry of former state Athletics Commission executive director Mike Scionti will last a little longer.

On Thursday, the Florida Commission on Ethics returned the two remaining charges to the hearing officer who initially heard the case. Commissioners want clarification on why he didn't find wrongful intent on one of the two charges.

Scionti, the current chairman of the Hillsborough Democratic Executive Committee, is charged with soliciting free boxing tickets while on the commission. He also is accused of claiming that a probationer, who was an acquaintance of his, performed community service hours in his office that were not done at the time he said they were.

Scionti has denied the first charge and has provided an explanation in defense of the second. He was removed from the job as Florida's top boxing regulator by Gov. Jeb Bush in March 1999.

Scionti initially was accused of an array of charges, including: Soliciting a $100,000 donation from boxing promoter Don King for a foundation Scionti founded; making rule changes that favored King; forbidding women from being judges; and licensing unqualified friends and associates as judges.

A hearing officer threw out all but one of the charges after a trial in August.

"I never broke any rule of the board," said Scionti, who did not attend Thursday's hearing.

The remaining charge forwarded by the hearing officer accuses Scionti of soliciting free tickets to a boxing match from King. Scionti said he never solicited the tickets, but did help King identify local dignitaries and other influential people for free passes, a common practice.

He also lined up donated tickets for the Boys and Girls Club after an event failed to attract a sellout crowd.

The commission advocate, who acts as the prosecutor in the case, asked the commission to revisit the charge relating to the probationer, which was dismissed by the hearing officer.

Scionti said he had arranged to have the probationer perform community service in his office on Saturdays. Unbeknownst to him, he said, the work wasn't performed on Saturdays.

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