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Court Accepts Guilty Plea in Va. Blackmail Case

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) - A federal judge accepted the guilty plea of a man charged with trying to extort state Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment Jr. over allegedly embarrassing text and e-mail messages.

According to court documents, Christopher Burruss, a former legal client of Norment, threatened to release messages allegedly sent to three women, unless the state senator reimbursed him $20,000 in legal fees and admitted he mishandled the case that brought the two men together.

Norment was appointed as legal counsel for Burruss in a 2010 drunk driving case in New Kent County Virginia. Burruss was found guilty of the charges.

Two years after his conviction, Burruss filed an appeal alleging Norment's incompetence as legal counsel, and also filed a complaint against Norment with the Virginia State Bar Association.

The court documents say "Burruss stated that he believed that TN had mishandled the New Kent County criminal case and had inappropriate communications and contact with Burruss' friend SB and another woman leading up to and after the criminal case that affected TN's representation."

In his complaint to the bar association, Burruss included "several embarrassing email and text messages between TN, SB and two other women. Also included were affidavits from SB and another woman detailing some of their interactions with TN before and after the New Kent County criminal case."

Burgess sent a second letter to the bar association in January 2014, alleged he had contacted the media with his complaint but did not include aforementioned evidence as requested.

"The defendant requested that the Bar contact TN and have him (TN) notify the Virginia Supreme Court of his behavior for their consideration in his case," said the US in the court documents say.

Burruss began sending extortionate emails to Norment in January 2014 from SB's email account under SB's identity. A copy of the letter sent to the bar association was included with these emails, along with threats to send the extortionate materials to the media unless Norment complied with Burress's demands.

But Norment, who practices law with Kaufman & Canoles of Williamsburg, Va, did not comply. Instead, he contacted federal prosecutors.

With his guilty plea, Burruss now faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in January.

Norment has not acknowledged any communications with either SB or the other women alluded to in the extortionate emails and texts.

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