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A Norfolk businessman pleaded guilty to bribing high-ranking city officials Friday, including the current city treasurer.
Ronald W. Boone, 67, entered into a plea agreement in federal district court in Norfolk on Friday and could face up 35 years in prison, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Norfolk.
Between roughly March 2004 and December 2015, Boone provided dinners, cash and free use of a beach house to Norfolk City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot, a former Norfolk city councilmen. In return, Burfoot took official actions and made promises of future official actions that benefited Boone and his business interests, the release said.
Other “high-ranking” city officials, including another official in the treasurer’s office, are also implicated, though the release does not name them.
A spokesperson in the city treasurer’s office, Stanley Stein, had no comment Friday. The office is directing all calls to Burfoot’s attorney, Andrew M. Sacks, Stein said.
Sacks was not immediately available for comment before deadline Friday.
According to the Justice Department, during the decade-plus conspiracy, Boone gave Burfoot cash in increments of several thousand dollars, usually not less than $2,500. Burfoot also received several cash “loans” from Boone, totaling at least $20,000, but never made any repayments. Boone never asked to be repaid.
In addition, Boone gave Burfoot free access to a beach house on Lindbergh Avenue in Kitty Hawk, N.C. Burfoot concealed Boone’s ownership, telling friends who used the home with him that he, not Boone, was the owner. Boone also gave Burfoot a key to the house, according to the release.
In return, Boone sought and received help from Burfoot in official city business, according to the Justice Department.
Burfoot helped ensure the removal of an individual, not named in court documents, who was taken off the Board of Commissioners for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Burfoot also voted repeatedly as Boone wished in matters that came before council, including: special exceptions for a Boone business, special exceptions for a business that operated from Boone’s properties, ordinances related to Boone’s properties and ordinances that affected Boone’s business interests, the release said.
Before one vote, Boone gave Burfoot between $5,000 and $10,000 in cash, and Burfoot voted as Boone wished.
According to the Justice Department, Boone also bribed another “high-ranking” Norfolk official, whom the release does not name. In roughly early 2015, prosecutors said, Boone provided an undisclosed, undocumented, interest-free loan of at least $5,000 to a “high-ranking” employee of the City Treasurer’s office.
In addition, Boone pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud, stemming from allegations that he provided false documents to Fulton Bank to obtain a $13.2 million loan; he also defrauded BB&T Bank out of more than $160,000 in proceeds stemming from a real-estate transaction tied to a $1 million loan in November 2011.
Boone’s business interests have primarily been in Norfolk’s Ocean View, according to court documents. They include real-estate investments, construction, a real-estate rental company, local restaurants and a fishing pier, according to court documents.
Boone will be sentenced on Jan. 26, 2017.