Norfolk councilman: Developer told him in 2010 Burfoot was soliciting bribes

13News Now Marcella Robertson has the story

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Councilman Paul Riddick took the stand Tuesday in the federal corruption case against Anthony Burfoot, testifying that developer Dwight Etheridge told him in 2010 Burfoot was soliciting bribes.

Riddick told the jury the conversation happened right before the controversial vote to approve the Midtown Office Tower Project.

Riddick said he told Etheridge that he didn't need to give Burfoot "one red cent" to build anything in Norfolk.

Burfoot is accused of taking more than $400,000 in kickbacks from developers Tommy Arney, Dwight Etheridge, and Ronnie Boone, Sr.  from 2005 to 2011. In exchange, prosecutors say Burfoot promised to help the developers obtain taxpayer-funded projects with the City of Norfolk.

Burfoot's defense attorney brought up Riddick's prior testimony before a federal grand jury.

When asked why Riddick didn't do anything with the information Etheridge gave him, he told the grand jury the request for money was "really no big deal." Riddick also said he didn't do anything with the information because he believed no money actually ever had been exchanged.

Prosecutors asked Riddick about a strange lunch date with Burfoot a few years ago.

Riddick testified Burfoot invited him to lunch at Havana Downtown. Riddick said he thought Burfoot would pick up the tab since he invited him, but according to Riddick no one paid.

"We just got up and left," stated Riddick.

Later Tuesday, two former Tivest employees took the stand against Burfoot. Tivest Development and Construction is Etheridge's company. 

Gary Ellick and Recardo Lewis said they witnessed Etheridge give Burfoot money for years in exchange for votes. On one occasion, Ellick stated he saw Etheridge give Burfoot an envelope "bulging" with cash in the parking lot of a credit union in Chesapeake.

Ellick told the jury he urged Etheridge to report Burfoot to the authorities saying, "We shouldn't have to do business this way."

Burfoot's defense attorney, Andrew Sacks, painted Etheridge out to be a liar, fraud, and convicted felon on the stand last week. He implied Etheridge would say anything to help himself out.

Tuesday, Sacks implied Ellick and Lewis' testimonies were driven by the fact that they do not like Burfoot.

Prosecutors went through several witnesses Tuesday. Developers Tommy Arney and Ronnie Boone, Sr. still are expected to testify. Boone pleaded guilty to bribery back in September. He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

TIMELINE: The Anthony Burfoot federal corruption trial


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