NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- A federal corruption trial is underway against Norfolk's city treasurer.
Anthony Burfoot is accused of receiving at least $475,000 in bribes and kickbacks between 2005 and 2011. Prior to being the city treasurer, Burfoot served as Norfolk's vice mayor and was also a city councilman.
On January 8, 2016, 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 during his time on the City Council. Prosecutors 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.”
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 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.
Burfoot's own trial began on Monday, November 7, and is expected to last several weeks. Burfoot’s attorney said at a motions hearing last month that he has more witnesses than normal in his defense.
Former developer Dwight Etheridge, who is currently serving a four-year prison sentence, testified against Burfoot, claiming he received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash over the course of several years from Burfoot.
If Burfoot is convicted of all charges, he could face up to 100 years in prison, although it is likely he would receive a lesser sentence.