RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WAVY) — A federal appeals court has upheld the public corruption convictions of a former city treasurer and councilman in Virginia who was sentenced to six years in prison for selling his votes to developers.
Anthony Burfoot was convicted of wire fraud, extortion and conspiracy in 2016 after developers testified they gave him cash, a luxury automobile and the use of a beach house while he served on the City Council in Norfolk.
Testimony in the month-long jury trial included several high-profile witnesses including Norfolk developer Ronnie Boone Sr., former longtime Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim and NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith.
In his appeal, Burfoot argued that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him in the bribery schemes because the evidence showed only that he engaged in a conflict of interest.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his arguments Wednesday and affirmed all of his convictions.
Burfoot began serving his sentence in 2017 after he self-surrendered at Norfolk courthouse.
Burfort’s defense has been appealing the ruling over the last 18 months, even motioning for a new trial and asking for acquittal on multiple counts. A judge denied the acquittal motion.
A Norfolk judge ruled in June 2017 against a motion from Attorney Andrew Sacks, which argued one of the key witnesses for prosecutors, Councilman Paul Riddick, paid another witness.
Sacks said the interaction showed the possibility that Etheridge’s trial testimony could have been false. The judge ruled the payment happened after the trial and was not “newly discovered evidence” that could have influenced a jury.
10 On Your Side reached out Sacks, who said he is disappointed by Wednesday’s decision and believes Burfoot is innocent. Sacks said he is studying an option on whether or not to file a petition of rehearing within the next 14 days.