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Former Norfolk official gets 6 years in corruption case

NORFOLK (AP) A man who had served on Norfolk’s City Council and as the city’s treasurer was sentenced Monday to six years in federal prison for selling his votes to developers.

Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr. said the prison term matches the time in which Anthony Burfoot, 49, took bribes from people working on various construction projects. Burfoot also must forfeit $250,000, money the judge said Burfoot earned from the scheme.

Morgan noted Burfoot’s efforts to build better housing for people with lower incomes. But he said Burfoot paid himself first, leaving at least one project unfinished.

Burfoot was convicted in December after developers testified that they gave him cash, a luxury automobile and the use of a beach house.

“He didn’t really need it,” the judge noted at one point during the sentencing hearing. “His wife (a physician) made enough for both them of to be comfortable on. So, he was greedy. And he was arrogant.”

Burfoot spoke briefly before the judge sentenced him. But he did not apologize, noting that he and the jury saw things differently. Instead, he asked for time to help his mother, who is in failing health, get her affairs in order.

Morgan granted Burfoot two days before he must surrender to federal authorities.

Prosecutors had requested a sentence of 15 years in prison, which was in line with sentencing guidelines.

Prosecutor Uzo Asonye said Burfoot was cold, calculating and driven by “pure greed.” He also pointed to Burfoot’s refusal to take responsibility for his crimes as well as his refusal to quit as Norfolk’s treasurer after his conviction. A judge suspended Burfoot from the job instead.

“His greed eclipsed any vision that he had for his own community,” Asonye said.

Burfoot’s attorney said he deserved no more than two years in prison, if any time at all. Andrew Sacks argued that Burfoot has already suffered “profound and deep public humiliation and embarrassment.”

Burfoot’s church pastor also testified, saying the disgraced city official was man of “great faith and integrity.”

“Many of the saints in the scripture were found guilty even when they were not guilty,” Shelton Murphy said. “Jesus was found guilty. He was not guilty. I believe in the future of Anthony Burfoot. The best is yet to come.”

Judge Morgan said he hopes that Burfoot, after completing his sentence, “will be of service to his community.”

–BEN FINLEY, Associated Press

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