Bar owner and developer testifies in Burfoot corruption trial

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Bar owner and developer Tommy Arney testified Monday in Norfolk City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot’s public corruption trial. On the stand, Arney said he paid $25,000 in exchange for favors from then Vice Mayor Anthony Burfoot.

Arney is just another in a line of witnesses who say they bribed Burfoot.

“We knew each other through favors,” Arney said. “I need to get favors done.”

Arney told the jury he met Burfoot in 2006. He said right after that, Burfoot approached him at a groundbreaking for the Widgeon Point condo complex, which Arney was building.

Arney went on to say Burfoot was interested in a property he owned on Lafayette Boulevard. Burfoot told Arney he had to get Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing to buy the property for $250,000. Arney said he was only selling it for $170,000. In return, Burfoot wanted $50,000. That deal never got done.

Later on, Arney says Burfoot wanted to buy another property he owned near Old Dominion University.

Arney wanted to sell it for $3.5 million. He asked Burfoot what the plan was for the land and Burfoot told him he was going to resell it to the ODU Real Estate Foundation at a much higher rate. That deal never got done either.

Arney then told the jury about a deal he did enter with the Burfoot.

Tammy Sansbury, the mother of Burfoot’s two children, wanted to buy a condo in Widgeon Point, but she needed $25,000 to pay off credit to get a bank loan. At the time, Arney wanted to build a gentleman’s club in downtown Norfolk called the Granby Caberet.

Arney told the jury he paid Sansbury the $25,000 and in return, Burfoot had promised to get the permit for the club.

Arney said construction started before he even got the permit and Burfoot asked for a key to the club. Arney was spurred when Burfoot publicly said he would not support it.

Arney told the court Burfoot did help him down the road, after he opened a new bar. The planning commission didn’t approve his outdoor sign, but it passed city council 5-3.

“As long as Burfoot was on my side, I knew it could happen,” Arney added. “Trust me, he convinced them [city council].”

Arney pleaded guilty to bank fraud in the Bank of the Commonwealth trial. He served 24 months in federal prison.

Burfoot’s attorney, Andrew Sacks, says he is pleased with the way the trial is going. He says none of the prosecution’s witnesses have been consistent with their stories and he believes the jury will see that, too.

Prosecutors say they plan to wrap up their case Tuesday afternoon.