In a response to an ethics complaint, state Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr. disclosed a prior personal relationship with a registered lobbyist, according to The Virginian-Pilot, which obtained a copy of Norment’s 2013 letter.
Norment’s letter was in response to allegations of improper conduct filed with the Virginia State Bar by a former client, who included copies of certain Norment emails and texts.
It was not clear how Norment’s personal communications fell into the hands of the former client, but the client used them to try leverage relief from his criminal conviction. The client’s action led to a prison sentence for extortion.
Norment’s letter to bar prosecutors acknowledged “inappropriate personal communication” with two of the client’s female friends, as well as his relationship with the lobbyist, whose name was not disclosed by the newspaper.
Norment said in the 2013 letter that his marriage was strained at the time of his indiscretions but had since strengthened.
The former client, Christopher Burruss, was sentenced April 1 to two years in prison for extortion. Norment had represented him on traffic charges in New Kent County.
With his case on appeal in 2013, Burruss submitted to the VSB “several embarrassing e-mail and text messages” between Norment and three women, the federal prosecutor’s office said in a news release. The release referred to Norment as “T.N.”
“Also included were affidavits from two women detailing some of their interactions with T.N. before and after the New Kent County criminal case. These e-mails, text messages, and affidavits later served as the basis for Burruss’ extortionate threats against T.N.,” the U.S. attorney’s news release said.
Threatening to publicize that information, Burruss had demanded Norment refund his fees and write a statement saying he had mishandled the criminal case.
Norment turned the client’s messages over to federal authorities.