JT Burnette trying to get extortion, bribery convictions tossed out

Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Wednesday
JT Burnette is appealing his 2021 conviction on federal bribery charges. He is currently...
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 7:12 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Tallahassee developer JT Burnette is trying to get his 2021 extortion and bribery convictions overturned.

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case on Wednesday.

Burnette was found guilty of a bribery scheme along with former Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox and former Downtown Improvement Authority director Paige-Carter Smith.

He is currently serving a three-year prison sentence at a minimum-security prison camp in Alabama.

Burnette’s attorney Amy Saharia argued there were mistakes in the jury instructions that could have changed the outcome of the trial and improper opinions in the testimony of the Government’s star witness, undercover FBI Agent Mike Sweets.

Nearly seven pages of Burnette’s appeal are blacked out, but federal court records show a judge denied attempts to seal oral arguments.

There is no word on when the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals could rule.

Burnette and Maddox were accused of extorting bribes from undercover agents posing as developers and entrepreneurs and then funneling the $10,000 a month payments through Carter-Smith’s consulting firm.