The attorneys representing John Thomas Burnette have asked the conviction against Burnette to be overturned.
According to a document filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11 Circuit on Wednesday, Burnette’s attorneys, Tim Jansen of Tallahassee and Williams and Connolly LLP of Washington, D.C., requested on behalf of Burnette that the court "should vacate the conviction and remand with instructions to enter judgement of acquittal or a new trial."
The representatives for Burnette argued in the filing that the government's Aug. 2021 conviction of J.T. Burnette was based on missteps by the prosecution.
In the document, the defense contends the prosecution incorrectly informed the jury that it could convict Burnette even if the prosecution failed to prove that Scott Maddox, a former city of Tallahassee commissioner, promised to take official action on a matter.
Maddox and Janice Paige Carter-Smith, a business partner of Maddox, pled guilty to federal charges in 2019 and are serving time in federal prison.
The document noted the prosecution allowed an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent to question the truthfulness of statements made by Burnette.
The defense also believes that the “sloppy questions asked by FBI agents, who interviewed Burnette were fundamentally ambiguous. Burnette’s answers, moreover, were truthful.”
The FBI's undercover investigation began in 2015. The document notes FBI agents posed as entrepreneurs seeking to develop real estate in Tallahassee.
Burnette’s trial began in July 2021 and he was found guilty on August 13, 2021 of five of the nine charges.
He was found guilty of alleged extortion, two counts of honest services fraud, a count of violating the Travel Act on an Oct. 24, 2016 call, and false statements in a May 2017 interview with a federal officer.
Burnette was acquitted on racketeering conspiracy, two counts of honest services fraud and one count of Travel Act violation on an Oct. 19, 2016 telephone call.
On Nov. 9, 2021, Burnette, 44, was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons database, Burnette is listed as an inmate at the FPC Montgomery minimum security prison in Montgomery, Alabama.
Burnette is scheduled to be released on Aug. 7, 2024.