NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Federal prosecutors continue to paint Norfolk City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot as a man who took bribes and kick backs for years.
Monday, Dwight Etheridge was back on the stand for his third day of testimony. Etheridge is the former owner of Tivest, a construction company. He said last week he gave Burfoot more than $400,000 and in return, the councilman would make sure the company was given construction projects.
“We were close, because we were involved in this Tivest venture,” Etheridge said.
Andrew Sacks, Burfoot’s attorney, asked Etheridge if he and Burfoot were friends. Sacks wanted to know why Etheridge paid for Burfoot’s 40th birthday party at a club on Granby Street.
Etheridge said he did that the same way he paid for everything when it came to Burfoot — because he wanted to keep the councilman on his side.
Sacks went through several contracts and ordinances for the Broad Creek and Midtown Office Tower projects. Most of the votes were unanimous.
“Did you pay any of those other council members?” Sacks asked Etheridge.
“Only Anthony Burfoot,” Etheridge replied. “Anthony Burfoot was our advocate to push projects forward.”
Sacks wanted the jury to see there was no reason Etheridge to pay Burfoot, because the projects were favorable.
Prosecutors showed a video of the city council meeting, where members approved Broad Creek. Burfoot said he was proud of the project.
“I know,” Mayor Paul Fraim said. “It’s only the 100th time you said that.”
Prosecutors are trying to show that Burfoot was on the inside, steering council members in his direction.
NFL great and local developer Bruce Smith highlighted Monday’s witnesses. Smith said he and Burfoot are no longer friends and haven’t been for a long time.
Smith said he was testifying only because he was subpoenaed. He said he had a conversation with Curtis Etheridge years ago about Burfoot.
“Curtis told me he could bury Anthony Burfoot,” Smith said.
Smith told the jury he advised Etheridge to go to authorities if things became a problem.
Smith is the president of Bruce Smith Enterprise, a developing company. He said he put in a proposal for the Midtown Office Tower before Tivest did.
Smith told the jury his proposal was to have the city consolidate offices and lease part of the building. It was an idea he said he got from Burfoot.
Smith’s proposal was denied and Tivest ended up getting the contract. Smith said he never asked why.
Wendy Petchel, who works as Norfolk’s Deputy Treasurer, then took the stand. She testified she would take trips with Burfoot to a beach house in the Outer Banks. Petchel said Burfoot told everyone in the office the home was his.
Prosecutors believe the home was owned by Ocean View businessman Ronnie Boone. Boone has already pleaded guilty to bribing Burfoot. He is scheduled to testify later in the trial.
Burfoot is facing eight federal counts. If convicted, he could serve up to 100 years in prison.