RICHMOND, Va. – Anthony Burfoot, a former city treasurer and councilman, had his public corruption convictions upheld Wednesday by a federal appeals court.
Burfoot was previously sentenced to six years in prison for selling his votes to developers while serving on the City Council in Norfolk. He was convicted of wire fraud, extortion and conspiracy after those same developers testified against him in 2016.
In 2002, Burfoot was elected to serve on the Norfolk City Council. Around the same time, an acquaintance of Burfoot’s, Curtis Etheridge, formed a development and construction company called Tivest.
According to court documents, while Burfoot did not financially invest in Tivest, he was a “silent partner” and provided the company with tax-funded construction projects in Norfolk.
In return, Etheridge allegedly provided Burfoot with various perks, including home improvements, meals, trips and entertainment.
In 2005, Burfoot decided to distance himself from Etheridge after Etheridge was convicted of making a false 911 call and impersonating a police officer. He told Etheridge, his brother Dwight Etheridge and another Tivest principal that he wanted them to “buy him out” of his interest in Tivest for $250,000. In exchange, Burfoot would make sure the city awarded the company a large construction contract, court documents say.
The other Tivest principal, Recardo Lewis, pushed back against Burfoot’s request for buyout, and in response Burfoot allegedly threatened to award the contract to another construction company.
Two days later, Dwight Etheridge made an initial cash payment of $30,000 to Burfoot, and over the next six years Burfoot allegedly demanded and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts from the Etheridge brothers.
In response, Burfoot voted to approve ordinances that awarded construction projects to Tivest or benefited the company in other ways. He also cast votes in support of Tivest’s MidTown Office Tower project, which the company wanted to build on city-owned land.
Burfoot’s appeal argued that there was not enough available evidence to prove he participated in bribery schemes.
A grand jury ultimately charged Burfoot in an eight-count indictment with conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud, honest-services wire fraud, conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, Hobbs Act extortion and four counts of perjury.
His defense team had been appealing the ruling ever since Burfoot began serving his sentence last year.