NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- A federal judge sentenced suspended Norfolk City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot to six years in prison Monday for corruption and perjury.
A jury found Burfoot guilty of the charges on December 9, 2016.
Burfoot entered the federal courthouse in Norfolk hours earlier with tears in his eyes.
Federal prosecutors said the city treasurer accepted money and other forms of compensation from developers while he served on Norfolk City Council. They maintained Burfoot used his influence as a councilman to benefit those developers.
The judge said the bribery scheme in which Burfoot was involved lasted six years, so that was how long Burfoot's sentence should be. Burfoot also has to forfeit $250,000 to the federal government.
The U.S Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia asked the judge to sentence Burfoot to 17-and-a-half years in prison.
Burfoot's lawyer, who hoped, ideally, to have the conviction overturned, submitted paperwork asking that the sentence be no more than 24 months.
“When elected officials engage in corruption it erodes public confidence in our democratic system of government,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Burfoot’s well-publicized criminal exploits have eroded public confidence in how their tax dollars are used and managed, and his selfish actions feed the worst perceptions about public employees, of whom the vast majority perform their duties selflessly and admirably. I want to thank the Assistant United States Attorneys and the FBI for their diligence and dedication in pursing this important case.”
Prosecutors said from 2005 through the middle of February 2011, Burfoot solicited items of value including money, car payments, and home appliances from people who had matters before city council. In exchange, Burfoot promised to perform specific official acts as well as other actions on an as-needed basis on their behalf.
The U.S Attorney's Office said Burfoot had "illicit relationships" with the managers of Tivest Development company as well as developer and local restaurant owner Thomas Arney. Court records showed the managers of Tivest paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Burfoot and, in exchange, Burfoot voted in favor of city ordinances that provided city-owned land to Tivest for a nominal cost and additional city funds for infrastructure improvements.
At Burfoot’s request, Arney paid $25,000 to the mother of two of Burfoot’s children after Burfoot promised to obtain the necessary votes for Arney to open a gentlemen’s club on Granby Street in Norfolk.
Burfoot also committed perjury by claiming during a federal trial that he never accepted or solicited a thing of value in exchange for performing an official act.
Court records and evidence presented at trial showed that developer and local restaurant owner Ronnie Boone, Sr. provided money, gifts, free access to a beach house, and other items of value to Burfoot. The then councilman performed specific official actions and promised to engage in future official actions to benefit Boone and his business interests.
Several witnesses were at the courthouse Monday to speak on Burfoot's behalf.
He told 13News Now Monday morning that he still loved the city of Norfolk.
Burfoot must turn himself in to U.S. Marshals by 2 p.m. Wednesday.
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