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Health issues to prevent Whittemore from serving sentence in federal prison near Reno

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RENO, Nevada — Former Nevada developer and political power broker Harvey Whittemore's health issues will prevent him from serving his two-year prison sentence at a federal penitentiary about 50 miles north of Reno, prison officials said.

Whittemore was convicted a year ago of violating campaign-spending laws by using family and employees of his billion-dollar real estate company to funnel more than $130,000 to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's re-election committee in 2007. Reid, who later donated the contributions to charity, has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case.

Whittemore attorney Justin Bustos declined comment on his client's health.

According to documents filed by his attorneys last September, Whittemore, 61, suffers from diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks ordered Whittemore to turn himself in Aug. 6 to the medium-security federal prison in Herlong, California, about an hour-drive from Reno.

But Herlong Federal Correctional Institution spokesman Chris Ulrich told the Reno Gazette-Journal (http://on.rgj.com/1tjWSMP ) the facility is a "Care Level 1" prison that only takes healthy inmates, and Whittemore would have to be sent to a prison that offers better health care services.

Prison officials declined to say where Whittemore would go instead.

Ed Ross, spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, said Care Level 2 and 3 medium-security institutions in the West are located in Lompoc, California; Victorville, California; Phoenix; Tucson, Arizona; and Sheridan, Oregon.

Meanwhile, a Nevada State Bar disciplinary panel has set a Friday date to start deliberations on the punishment for Whittemore, an attorney. Its recommendations will go to the Nevada Supreme Court, which will make a final decision on discipline.

Bar counsel David Clark told the Gazette-Journal options for discipline range from a written or public reprimand, a suspension or disbarment.

The state Supreme Court, in a July 3 order, said it's time for the disciplinary board to decide Whittemore's punishment now that Hicks has ordered him to begin his prison term.

The panel held hearings in January and recommended that the suspension of his law license be lifted and that his discipline be postponed until after his appeal is decided.

But the Supreme Court said Hicks' order changed that plan, and denied the request to lift the license suspension.

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