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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jury Selection Begins in Corruption Trial

NORFOLK, Va. (CN) — The corruption and perjury trial of City Treasurer and Councilman Anthony Burfroot got underway Monday with jury selection taking longer than many people anticipated.

A pool of 48 prospective jurors gathered in a federal courtroom at 10 a.m. at to be questioned by prosecutors and Burfoot's defense attorney, Andrew Sacks, but by mid-afternoon, only 18 had been dismissed.

Before the jury entered, the defense requested if jury selection advisor Jeff Fredericks, of Charlottesville, Virginia, would be allowed to sit with them during jury selections.

Judge Henry Morgan allowed Fredericks to accompany the defense as long as it was made clear to potential jurors that he was not a lawyer for the defense, but merely an advisor.

Judge Morgan addressed the prospective jurors, explaining basic courtroom procedure and even advising them on etiquette.

"Behave how you would want a judge to act if it was your case," Judge Morgan said.

A second group of prospective jurors was expected to be in court Monday afternoon, but after U.S. District Judge Henry Morgan broke for a late lunch he sent them home with instructions to return Tuesday.

Burfoot is charged with eight felonies, including honest service wire fraud and obtaining property under color of official light. His trial is expected to last about four weeks.

Prosecutors hope to convince the 12 jurors and four alternates that are ultimately selected that Burfoot got numerous kickbacks and bribes between 2005 and early 2011, including more than $450,000 in cash, and numerous gifts including kitchen appliances and a Mercedes sedan.

In exchange, the government says, Burfoot promised to vote for zoning changes and other aides to proposed development projects.

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