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Gary Yordon testifies on 2nd day of J.T. Burnette trial

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 6:56 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Wednesday was another packed day of witness testimony in the federal corruption trial of J.T. Burnette.

The trial is expected to last several weeks. Burnette is facing federal extortion and racketeering charges stemming from a city corruption probe.

Wednesday, Gary Yordon was on the stand for more than five hours, and his testimony revolved around the relationship between McKibbon Hotel Group and its proposal for a hotel on the corner of Monroe and Tennessee Street, Governance, the company formerly owned by Scott Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith and his own company, The Zachary Group.

Yordon followed the timeline of the project, originally planned to be commercial office space and parking garage in 2006 after pushback from members of the City Commission, that project turned in to a hotel proposal in 2013.

Yordon said he was asked by Maddox and Carter-Smith to help with that project.

MHG would pay $25,000 up front, and then $3,000 a month until completion. Yordon testified that those checks were paid to The Zachary Group and then immediately to governance.

Because Maddox was on the City Commission at the time, Yordon testified that this partnership was formed to avoid any ethical complaints or perceived conflicts of interest.

In September of 2013, that’s exactly what happened.

Tallahassee citizen Erwin Jackson spoke out against this project and about Maddox not disclosing a relationship with MHG during a City Commission meeting.

Maddox responded that it was untrue, calling it defamation. It was after that meeting that Yordon said J.T. Burnette’s company filed a “quasi-judicial petition”

During his testimony, Yordon said that lawsuit forced the project to stop progress. One of the state’s arguments against Burnette alleges he bribed Maddox to kill this hotel project.

Another day of testimony will start up Thursday at 9 a.m.

Prosecutors did say that did say that both John McKibbon and Wes Townsend from MHG are on its list of witnesses.

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