UPDATE 11/09: One of the key witnesses in the case against Anthony Burfoot took the stand on Wednesday.
Curtis Ethridge is the founder of defunct development company Tivest. Burfoot is accused of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Tivest.
Ethridge told the jury that Burfoot allegedly used his role as a city councilor to make sure Tivest got exclusive opportunities in his ward.
Ethridge testified that he funded much of Burfoot's lifestyle when the men became friends in 2002. That includes paying for frequent dinners and trips.
Ethridge said he knew the actions were "questionable and wrong." But also mentioned that the cash he was paying Burfoot was minimal compared to the financial return the opportunities Burfoot was providing would bring.
ORIGINAL STORY: NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Jury selection began Monday morning in the trial of Norfolk's city treasurer.
Anthony Burfoot, who previously served as Norfolk's vice mayor, has remained in office as treasurer since he was indicted on federal corruption charges earlier this year.
On January 8, Burfoot was arrested and escorted to the Norfolk Federal Courthouse in downtown Norfolk. A 32-page indictment listed the charges against Burfoot, including perjury and wire fraud. Investigators say he used his official position to solicit gifts and payments.
Prosecutors say Burfoot received nearly half a million dollars in kickbacks and bribes between 2005 and early 2011 during his time on the City Council. Prosecutors are expected to argue Burfoot took bribes from the now non-existent company, Tivest Development and Construction.
In 2015, the Justice Department issued subpoenas into the Burfoot office’s dealings with the defunct development company. Tivest’s former vice president, Recardo Lewis, was sentenced in 2013 to 50 months in prison for conspiracy to commit bank fraud as part of the $71 million Bank of the Commonwealth fraud trial.
The charges also stem from Burfoot’s relationship with former Tivest president, Dwight Etheridge, who was sentenced to more than four years in prison on fraud-related charges. Etheridge was found guilty after a lengthy, 10-week jury trial on May 24, 2013.
Burfoot’s name came up during that trial, when another developer, Tommy Arney, testified that then-Vice Mayor Burfoot pledged city council votes to approved a downtown strip club. Burfoot denied that allegation back then, telling 13News Now, “I’ve never had a conversation with Mr. Arney as it relates to that.”
The case is a very complex one, with the trial expected to last four weeks. Burfoot’s attorney said at a motions hearing last month that he has more witnesses than normal in his defense.
In September, Ronald Boone Sr., a prominent builder in Norfolk, pleaded guilty in federal court to bank fraud and bribing Burfoot. Boone is expected to be a key witness for the prosecution.
According to a federal indictment, between March 2004 and December 2014, Ronald Boone, Anthony Burfoot and other individuals conspired with each other to scheme and defraud the citizens of Norfolk through bribery.
The indictment also states that Ronald Boone secretly provided cash, gifts, and other things of value to Anthony Burfoot in exchange for Burfoot to perform specific official actions and other official actions on an as-needed basis.
Stay with 13News Now for updates during the trial.