Norfolk City Clerk takes the stand and opening statements heard in trial against City Treasurer

Posted at 9:26 AM, Nov 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 18:58:40-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Norfolk City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot's trial continued Tuesday with the Norfolk City Clerk taking the stand.

The City Clerk explained how the city records city council meetings.

Tuesday morning opening statements were heard from both the defense and the prosecution.

Opening statements told two very different stories as day two unfolded in federal court.
The prosecution alleges that Burfoot took cash and other things in exchange for his City Council votes over the course of several years.
The developers and businessmen who are accused of giving Burfoot kickbacks are Dwight Etheridge, Tommy Arney and Ronnie Boone.

Prosecutors alleged Tuesday that another city councilman even told Etheridge not to give Burfoot a dime in exchange for votes a few years ago. The prosecution said Tuesday that Etheridge did not listen and continued to give money to Burfoot.
The defense calls the accusations against Burfoot completely false.

Defense Attorney Andrew Sacks said the three bank fraud criminals Etheridge. Arney and Boone made false accusations against Burfoot to law enforcement in exchange for getting their sentences reduced.

Amery was sentenced to 27 months in prison for bank fraud in 2013. Etheridge was sentenced to 4 years and 2 months in 2013. Boone plead guilty to bribery of city officials and bank fraud in September 2016 and is expected to be sentenced in January.

Burfoot is accused of not only using city funds for personal gain, but also of bribing developers and city business owners while he served as a city councilman, vice mayor and treasurer.

On Monday during jury selection jurors were asked if they could be fair and impartial and were forced to answer questions like if they knew anyone connected to the case, if they will suffer any hardships due to the anticipated length of the trial and if they have ever served on a jury which came to a verdict.

The judge also said that aspects of Burfoot's alleged extra martial affairs would be part of trial and asked the potential jurors if they could still be fair and impartial knowing that information.

The judge said the trial is expected to last a month, but said they would only be in court Monday - Thursday.

Dozens of people were issued subpoenas and many of them are high ranking officials.

The list includes former Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim. Chief Deputy Treasurer Amy Ortega, Real Estate Tax staffer Wendy Petchl and other Norfolk City Treasurer’s Office employees were also issued subpoenas.

Also on the list are Norfolk School Board Chairman Rodney Jordan, Norfolk City Council members past and present to include the Vice Mayor Theresa Whibley, District 4's Paul Riddick, District 5's Thomas Smigiel and District 7's Angelia Williams Graves, Barclay Winn and Andrew Protogyrou.

Delegate Daun Sessoms Hester, Pastor Kim Brown, Norfolk City Manager Marcus Jones, former city employee Barbara Zoby, Clerk of Courts employee Crystal Porter, the Clerk of Circuit Court George Schaefer, City Attorney Bernard Pishko, Assistant Director in the Planning Commission Lenny Newcomb, Steve Morales, Keith McNair and Shurl Montgomery are on the list as well.

Burfoot is accused of taking almost a half a million dollars in kickbacks.

Federal prosecutors said he got work done to his home, a Mercedes and cash for the mother of his children among other perks.

During pervious interview with WTKR Sack said his client is completely innocent.

“Anthony Burfoot has denied and will continue to deny that he received cash payments from anybody to cast a vote. It just didn't happen,” said Sacks.

Court documents outline how the federal government will call numerous witnesses who will detail their own corrupt dealings with Burfoot.

There will also be several women who say Burfoot brought them to a beach house that they thought was his but in fact was owned by Boone, according to court records.

In documents federal prosecutors state they have video recordings of council meetings, along with bank, phone and other records as evidence for their case, including emails.

Court records indicate they’ll bring up Burfoot’s prior testimony during a case in 2013 to prove he lied under oath. Sacks told the jury Tuesday that Burfoot did not lie under oath.

“He is stunned by these accusations. He believes so strongly in his innocence he's baffled he doesn't understand it,” said Sacks.

The jury is made up of 10 women and 6 men.  They range in age.  Tuesday the judge let the jurors go home early so they could vote.  Court is expected to continue Wednesday at 10am.


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