NORFOLK, Va. – Anthony L. Burfoot, 48, of Norfolk, was convicted today by a federal jury on charges of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right, obtaining property under color of official right, and perjury. Burfoot is the current Norfolk City Treasurer and a former Vice Mayor of Norfolk and City Councilman.
“Public corruption strikes at the heart of democracy and erodes public confidence in government,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Anthony Burfoot violated the sacred trust we place in our elected officials and in doing so his greed eclipsed his vision for building up his own community. The citizens of Norfolk have a right to nothing less than fair and honest government, and this conviction should serve as a warning to anyone who thinks about selling their office. My office will continue to investigate and prosecute those who would sell their office. I want to thank the Assistant United States Attorneys and the FBI for their diligence and dedication in pursing this important case.”
“Public officials are entrusted with authority by their constituents and are expected to serve with integrity and honor,” said Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. “Greed and self-interest are a fundamental betrayal to the community and have no place in public service. This conviction demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to thoroughly investigating public corruption at all levels of government and bringing justice to those who violate the law at the expense of the public’s trust.”
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, from 2005 through in or about Feb. 15, 2011, Burfoot engaged in a scheme to defraud the citizens of Norfolk of their right to the honest services of a Norfolk Councilman, Vice Mayor, and Chief Deputy Treasurer. Specifically, Burfoot solicited things of value including money, car payments, and home appliances from individuals with matters before city council and, in exchange, promised to perform specific official acts as well as other actions on an as needed basis on their behalf. Burfoot had illicit relationships with the managers of Tivest Development company as well as Thomas Arney, another developer and local restaurant owner. The managers of Tivest paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Burfoot and, in exchange, Burfoot voted in favor of City ordinances that provided City-owned land to Tivest for nominal cost and additional City funds for infrastructure improvements. At Burfoot’s request, Arney paid $25,000 to the mother of two of Burfoot’s children after Burfoot promised to obtain the necessary votes for Arney to open a gentlemen’s club on Granby Street in Norfolk. Burfoot also committed perjury, in numerous ways, by claiming under oath during a federal trial that he never accepted nor solicited a thing of value in exchange for performing an official act. Furthermore, according to court records and evidence presented at trial, Ronald Boone, another developer and local restaurant owner, provided cash, gifts, free access to a beach house, other things of value to Burfoot. In exchange, Burfoot performed specific official actions and promised to engage in future official actions to benefit Boone and his business interests.
Burfoot faces a maximum penalty of 5 to 20 years in prison when sentenced on April 17, 2017. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after the verdict was accepted by U.S. District Judge District Judge Henry C. Morgan, Jr. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa E. O’Boyle, Uzo E. Asonye, and Katherine Lee Martin are prosecuting the case.