NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — An ex-Norfolk official convicted of public corruption charges has been released from federal prison amid coronavirus concerns, officials confirm.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that Anthony Burfoot was released from U.S. Penitentiary Cannan, a high-security federal prison located in Waymart, Pa.
Burfoot was released from prison into home confinement due to COVID-19 concerns. He has not been granted parole. The Bureau of Prisons made the decision to release him, according to the U.S. DOJ.
10 On Your Side reached out to the BOP to learn more about the circumstances surrounding Burfoot’s release from USP Cannan. The BOP declined to discuss information about “an individual inmate’s conditions of confinement or release plans,” but said there are 0 federal inmates and 1 BOP staff member who have tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility.
One inmate and three prison staff members have recovered from the virus.
Within the national federal prison system, 3,319 inmates and 250 prison staff have tested positive for COVID-19. 48 federal inmates have died from the disease, according to BOP’s website.
“The total number of open, positive test, COVID-19 cases fluctuates up and down as new cases are added and resolved cases are removed,” a BOP spokesperson wrote in an email.
The BOP said it has “begun immediately reviewing all inmates who have COVID-19 risk factors” to find which inmates could be changed to home confinement. Inmates do not need to apply for it, as all inmates are reviewed for suitability for home confinement.
Burfoot has been in federal prison for a little over three years.
Burfoot was convicted by a federal jury of public corruption charges in 2016, including soliciting bribes while serving on Norfolk City Council. He was sentenced to six years in federal prison.
He appealed is conviction in 2018, but it was upheld by a federal judge. Burfoot filed a motion to vacate his sentence in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia in November 2019. That motion is still active in the court system.
In his motion to vacate, Burfoot claimed that his lawyer represented him ineffectively and that his constitutional rights were violated.
Burfoot claims that jurors were led astray when federal prosecutors “committed misconduct” during he trial. He also said a judge gave him an “unreasonable” sentence and made a mistake when denying his motion for a new trial. He claims he made that motion “on the basis of inadmissible testimony, newly discovered evidence, and the jury’s failure to fully deliberate,” court documents state.
These “errors were not merely procedural, but substantially infringed” on his constitutional rights, he claims. He is asking for a hearing to be held in the case.
His appellate attorney, Andrew Sacks, said “a number of factors” contributed to Burfoot’s early release.
“As Anthony Burfoot’s former trial and appellate counsel, I am pleased to hear that he has been released early from institutional confinement to rejoin his family,” Sacks said in a statement. “The government sought a 17.5-year term at sentencing. We vigorously resisted that and the court gave him six.”
“However, that his initial sentence was, itself, as low as it was, compared to what the government sought, surely went a long ways toward positioning Anthony for such an early release,” Sacks continued. “That the initial sentence was low enough to support such an early release is the best evidence of just how effective the counsel was that he received in connection with his case.”