Norfolk judge postpones Burfoot corruption trial

NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — A Norfolk judge has ruled to postpone the trial against Norfolk City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot until after the Supreme Court rules in the Bob McDonnell case.

Several motions were heard in court Tuesday by Norfolk Federal Judge Henry Morgan, but they were delayed after a motion to postpone the case was granted. Judge Morgan said from the bench, “I don’t think there is anything further we can do in the case. We’ll just have to wait.”

They will wait until the United States Supreme Court issues a ruling possibly in late June after hearing the McDonnell appeal on April 27.

Morgan said Tuesday, “The reasons to continue are overwhelming. I don’t believe the court has any choice. The case, at the core of this case, is what determines an official act, and the jury instructions would go to the heart of the case.”

Burfoot’s attorney Andrew Sacks said outside court, “The law is unsettled right now, and until it is settled it is unfair to try any defendants under these statutes and under these type of charges.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not oppose the ruling and thought it was a prudent way to go. Burfoot refused to answer any questions from the media following the hearing. Sacks said it became clear the Burfoot trial could not go forward until the McDonnell trial was decided. “It was an evolution. It didn’t strike me until I started preparing pre-trial motions and realized the McDonnell case is the core of everything at this point,” he said.

Last year, a federal jury found McDonnell and his wife Maureen guilty of public corruption. McDonnell appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court last October.

Sacks has argued that case could have legal impact on Burfoot’s trial.

In a motion filed last month, Sacks said his client’s case, along with McDonnell’s case, involve questions about the definition of an official act.

Morgan said this about the Supreme Court decision, “That decision is going to have such an impact on this case and will impact all the motions. I grant the continuance because it doesn’t make sense to move forward…even with other motions. The waste of government resources outweighs the public’s interest in the trial.”

Sacks says if the former governor’s appeal is successful, then at least some of the charges against the former city councilman should be dropped.

In January, Burfoot was indicted on several federal corruption and perjury charges.

The charges accuse the former vice mayor of taking nearly half-a-million dollars in money and gifts in exchange for giving favors involving city business during a four-year period.

Burfoot’s defense lawyer, Andrew Sacks filed numerous motions within the past month – some of which are calling for the perjury charges to be dropped.

Sacks claims federal prosecutors tried to trap the former vice mayor into making false statements during the Bank of the Commonwealth trial in 2013, where he was a defense witness.

The government says Burfoot lied on the stand and is now using testimony under oath against him during his public corruption trial. Sacks maintains his client has always testified truthfully.

Burfoot’s lawyer believes since the government asked his client broad questions during the trail three years ago, the perjury charges should be thrown out.

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