Virginia Developer Pleads |Guilty to Bribing Officials

     (CN) — A Norfolk, Virginia developer pleaded guilty to corruption charges for bribing City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot, who is currently awaiting trial on related charges.
     Ronnie Boone Sr., 67, admitted bribing Burfoot and two other, as yet unnamed city officials, pleading guilty to bank fraud and a related conspiracy charge.
     He faces up to 35 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines when he is sentenced in the federal court in Norfolk, on Jan. 26, 2017.
     The trial of Burfoot, who still holds his job of city treasurer, is scheduled to begin on Nov. 7. He is charged with accepting $475,000 in kickbacks and bribes.
     Retired Circuit Judge James D’Alton of Petersburg denied a request last month to suspend Burfoot from office prior to the trial.
     According to court documents, Boone asked Burfoot for help with a variety of issues between March, 2004 and December 2013.
     At the time, Burfoot was a member of the city council and Norfolk’s vice mayor. He was elected treasurer in November 2013.
     Boone said in exchange for Burfoot’s help, he agreed to provide food, cash and assistance for events held at Boone’s beach house in North Carolina.
     The statement of facts filed with Boone’s plea also said Burfoot received about $20,000 in undocumented “loans” from Boone, which were never paid back, nor offered to be paid back.
     The court documents also state Boone has told prosecutors of two other “high-ranking city officials” that he provided with similar “loans” between 2002 and 2012.
     Boone said in return, Burfoot removed a member of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority board for his benefit, and that from that time forward, the board voted in a way that was favorable to Boone Builders Inc. and its properties when it several ordinances and special exceptions.
     The government also said Burfoot, as vice mayor,
     voted to allow Boone to build a wide asphalt driveway outside a home on Atlans Street, which he in turn sold for almost $200,000 profit.
     The statement of facts said Boone paid Burfoot between $5,000 and $10,000 in cash prior to the vote, which was unopposed by any councilman.
     Boone and Burfoot’s mutually profitable relationship began to come into question in July, 2012, when Boon requested city approval to keep one of his restaurants open an hour later than his competitors.
     Burfoot had stated in a recording of the meeting that, “I really have a tough time denying this guy an hour.”
     He explained he thought the owner was asking to stay open until 2 a.m.
     Boone’s attorneys, Jon Babineau and Edward Fiorella Jr., were unavailable for comment in time for publication.
     Burfoot’s attorney, Andrew Sacks, was also unavailable for comment in time for publication.

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