NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — One of the most anticipated witnesses took the stand Thursday in the Anthony Burfoot public corruption trial.
Ronnie Boone, an Ocean View businessman, said he gave Burfoot money and gifts and in return he was promised favors on Norfolk City Council.
Boone said he met Burfoot at a party just after the then councilman had been elected. He told the jury the two would meet for dinner and drinks. Boone would always pay.
“It was all about business,” Boone said. “I needed the support.”
Boone said he would routinely give Burfoot campaign donations and money for his charities. The money always had to be in cash, Boone went on to say.
“It was hard to separate the two [loans and donations],” Boone added. “You were never going to get the money back anyway.”
Boone told the jury he contributed to other political campaigns over the years, but only gave Burfoot cash. Boone said one time, he gave Burfoot $10,000.
Several witnesses have taken the stand talking about a beach house in the Outer Banks Burfoot says he owned. It actually is owned by Boone.
Boone said he usually gets $2,800 to $3,200 a week as a summer rental for the home. He told the jury Burfoot used the house for free many times. At one point, Boone even gave Burfoot his own key.
“He said he would always support me,” Boone said. “He voted the way I asked every time, except once.”
Boone said Burfoot helped get the Ocean View Pier a special exemption permit to serve alcohol.
In 2007, Boone says Burfoot helped to make sure customers in Boone’s restaurants could continue smoking inside.
The only time Burfoot voted against something Boone wanted was in 2012. That’s when a few bars were asking the City of Norfolk to change a provision to allow all bars to be open until 2 a.m. At that point, only a couple places had they privilege. Two of the bars grandfathered in before the provision changed were owned by Boone. Boone did not want to see changes, because he felt he would lose business.
“Burfoot said, ‘Don’t worry about it, I got your back,'” Boone said.
Burfoot was the deciding vote, but he voted to allow bars to serve until 2 a.m.
“I was upset,” Boone added. “I was more angry that he doubled crossed me.”
In June 2016, federal agents raided Boone’s office. Boone says he told investigators, “If you’re looking for the file on the beach house, I could show you where it is.”
Boone said he tried to get in touch with Burfoot after the raid, but he never heard from him.
Boone pleaded guilty in September to bribing Burfoot and bank fraud. He has not been sentenced, but as part of his plea agreement, he testified again Burfoot.