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J.T. Burnette sentenced to 3 years in prison for role in City Hall corruption

Posted at 3:22 PM, Nov 09, 2021

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Tallahassee businessman J.T. Burnette was sentenced to 3 years in prison on Tuesday for his role in corruption at Tallahassee City Hall.

Sentencing was previously scheduled for Oct. 28, 2021, after Burnette was found guilty of extortion, honest services mail fraud, Travel Act and lying to the FBI.

Five character witnesses spoke at the sentencing hearing, including Burnette himself and his wife Kim Rivers.

He is due to begin his prison sentence on Jan. 9, 2022, and has a year of supervised release once he gets out as well.

Burnette was also ordered to pay a $1,250,000 fine and $20,000 in restitution. The defense has until Nov. 23 to appeal.

BACKGROUND:

Corruption at city hall, it's the scandal the FBI released on February 5 of 2018.

That's when Scott Maddox, who was serving as a Tallahassee City Commissioner and Paige Carter-Smith, who was serving as the Downtown Improvement Authority Director, was named in search warrant affidavits.

Those documents say through a consulting company named Governance, they were paid to vote in favor of various groups lobbying to move into Tallahassee.

Maddox called the claims untrue a week later.

In December of that year, federal prosecutors found enough to charge him with 44 counts including bribery, extortion, bank fraud, and racketeering.

Just one day later, Former Governor Rick Scott suspended Maddox. Carter Smith stepped down from her role as well.

Not done with the players at hand, prosecutors indicted Tallahassee businessman J.T. Burnette on May 9, 2019.

In August of that year, Maddox and Carter Smith entered guilty pleas. The plea agreement only dealt with three charges: two for extortion and one for tax fraud. Thirty-nine of the charges were dropped because of that plea deal.

That same day, the US Attorney's Office launched a new statewide division made up of the US Attorney's Office, FBI agents, the IRS, and the Department of Justice to crack down on any form of corruption in government.

Scott Maddox was sentenced to 60 months imprisonment, followed by 1-year supervised release. In addition, Maddox was ordered to pay restitution to the IRS of $76,763.00, and forfeiture of $70,000 jointly and severally with codefendant(s).

Paige Carter-Smith was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, followed by 1-year supervised release. In addition, Carter-Smith was ordered to pay restitution to the IRS of $115,619, and forfeiture of $70,000 jointly and severally with codefendant(s).

Both Maddox and Carter-Smith reported to prison on Nov. 9 to serve their prison sentences.

TRIAL LINKS:

Burnette faced nine charges, including racketeering, extortion, honest services fraud, and making false statements.

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY ONE

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY TWO

JT BURNETT TRIAL: DAY THREE

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY FOUR

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY FIVE

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY SIX

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY SEVEN

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY EIGHT

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY NINE

JT BURNETTE: TRIAL DAY 10

TRIAL PAUSED ON 11th DAY

JT BURNETTE TRIAL: DAY 12