Burfoot sentenced to six years in public corruption case

Anthony Burfoot speaks with members of the media outside of the Norfolk Courthouse on Monday, April 17, 2017. Credit: WAVY/Erin Kelly

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Anthony Burfoot was sentenced to six years in prison in a public corruption case Monday afternoon. He must also pay back $250,000 as a part of the sentence.

Burfoot’s sentencing comes more than four months after a jury found him guilty on six of eight counts, which included wire fraud and perjury charges.

The trial last fall spanned more than five weeks. Jurors convicted Burfoot after five and a half hours of deliberation.

Prosecutors said from 2005 through February 2011, Burfoot was part of a scheme and solicited money, car payments and home appliances from people with matters before city council and, in exchange, promised to perform specific official acts on their behalf.

“Burfoot’s well-publicized criminal exploits have eroded public confidence in how their tax dollars are used and managed, and his selfish actions feed the worst perceptions about public employees, of whom the vast majority perform their duties selflessly and admirably. I want to thank the Assistant United States Attorneys and the FBI for their diligence and dedication in pursing this important case,” Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a statement Monday.

Special Coverage: Burfoot corruption trial

It was a standing-room only crowd at the Norfolk federal courthouse for Monday’s sentencing and the court opened the jury box to provide more seating. 10 On Your Side’s Erin Kelly reported there was a lot of emotion in the courtroom before the judge handed down the sentence.

“When you see your name, ‘Anthony Burfoot versus the United States Government,’ that’s intimidating in itself,” an emotional Burfoot said as he arrived at the courthouse Monday. “This is tough.”

“I believed in my innocence and I believed in my truth,” Burfoot said. “And in this country, I think every person should be entitled to a fair and impartial trial. And they should fight for what they believe in. And I fought for what I believe in: My truth. They brought every city official in this courtroom. Every one. And I still maintain my truth.”

Prosecutors originally sought a sentencing of 17.5 years, while Burfoot was looking for no more than 24 months. Defense attorney Andrew Sacks previously issued a statement regarding the sentencing, which said in part:

Based upon my analysis of the legally required sentencing factors that the United States Congress has directed be considered in federal sentencing procedures, I respectfully but vehemently disagree with the Government’s analysis and recommendation.I respectfully submit that such a recommended sentence is both extremely excessive and much, much greater than necessary.”

Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. dropped the sentencing guidelines to around 15.5 years to 19.5 years Monday. Prosecutors adjusted, and asked for 15.5 years for Burfoot.

“Anybody who engaged in that conduct should be punished,” said Judge Morgan, who also wanted to give Burfoot credit for what he believed was the good that he had done working for the city. He called the guidelines “excessive.”

Morgan said he does not believe Burfoot is a danger to the community, and hopes he can be of service to the community once his sentence is done.

Burfoot will not have to report to prison until Wednesday, April 19, 2017. He was given 48 hours to get his mother’s affairs in order. Burfoot’s father passed away after the trial.

Prosecutors objected to the request, arguing that Burfoot needed to be incarcerated Monday. In their final arguments, they called Burfoot an enemy of the City of Norfolk who caused lasting injury to Norfolk’s reputation. Burfoot was “cold, calculating, and deliberate” and “doubled down on lie after lie,” prosecutors said.

After Judge Morgan announced the sentence, Sacks said he was relieved.

“We’re just grateful that this was truly justice tempered with mercy. It’s not ideal, it’s not perfect, but it’s certainly a big relief compared to where we started, and again what the prosecution was seeking,” he said.

He called the judge’s decision to give Burfoot more time to help his mother a “very kind act.”

“That also makes a big difference, just psychologically, mentally and emotionally, to allow somebody a little bit of time and space to prepare themselves…Given his mother’s situation, that makes a big difference in terms of how you react and getting yourself started with this next phase in your life.”

Sacks previously filed several motions challenging the December verdict, even requesting a new trial and acquittal on a few of the charges. A judge denied the motions in a hearing last week, setting the stage for Monday’s sentencing.

Burfoot was suspended from his position of city treasurer earlier this year. The city’s chief deputy treasurer, Amelia Ortega, was appointed as acting treasurer following Burfoot’s suspension.