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Burnette found guilty of extortion, four other counts in federal corruption case

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 5:04 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee businessman JT Burnette has been found guilty on five counts, including extortion, in an FBI corruption probe that’s already led to the downfall of a city commissioner and a close associate.

The verdict comes after a month-long trial and over 14 hours of deliberation over two days.

Burnette was accused of racketeering, extortion, bribery, fraud and making false statements.

He was found guilty of extortion, two counts of honest services mail fraud, travel act and lying to the FBI. He was found not guilty of racketeering conspiracy, two counts of honest services mail fraud and travel act.

Federal prosecutors argued he paid City Commissioner Scott Maddox $100,000 to effectively kill a rival hotel plan and facilitated $40,000 in bribes for an FBI front company seeking the city’s approval on a development deal. That money, federal prosecutors say, was funneled through Governance Inc., a company run by Maddox’s longtime associate and girlfriend, Paige Carter-Smith.

Both Maddox and Carter-Smith have already pleaded guilty in the case and testified against Burnette at trial. They are set to be sentenced on Sept. 9.

Burnette could face years in federal prison. The US Attorney’s Office lists the maximum penalties as 20 years for racketeering, extortion and honest services fraud and five years for using interstate facilities in furtherance of bribery and making false statements.

Burnette’s sentencing date has been set for October 28 at 1 p.m.

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