US Attorney Comments on Burnette Conviction

US Attorney Comments on Burnette Conviction


U.S. Attorney Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – A federal jury in Tallahassee has convicted John Thomas Burnette, 44, of Tallahassee, Florida of one count of Extortion Under Color of Official Right, two counts of Honest Services Fraud by Bribery, one count of Use of Interstate Commerce Facilities to Promote Bribery, and one count of Making False Statements to a Federal Officer. The guilty verdict was returned August 13, 2021, at the conclusion of a fifteen-day trial.

Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Jason R. Coody, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Special Agent in Charge Rachel Rojas of the FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office made the announcement.

In December 2018, a federal grand jury charged Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith in a forty-four count indictment. In May 2019, a grand jury returned a superseding indictment adding Burnette as a defendant. Maddox and Carter-Smith subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of Honest Services Fraud by Bribery and one count of Conspiring to Interfere with the Lawful Function of the IRS. In October 2019, a grand jury returned a second superseding indictment against Burnette.

At trial, the government presented evidence that Burnette engaged in a multi-year scheme with Maddox and Carter-Smith to commit extortion, fraud, and bribery. During the scheme, Burnette and Maddox extorted bribe payments from FBI undercover agents (“UCs”) who were posing as real estate developers and entrepreneurs. Burnette instructed the UCs that to obtain preferential treatment, they must pay bribes to Maddox through Governance Services. Burnette, Maddox, Carter-Smith, and the UCs agreed that the UCs would pay Governance Services $10,000 per month in exchange for Maddox agreeing to perform official acts meant to benefit the UCs’ sham development company.

In 2017, FBI agents approached Burnette, identified themselves as FBI agents, and asked Burnette about his involvement in the bribe payments to Maddox. During the interview, Burnette repeatedly lied about his knowledge of the UCs’ payments to and involvement with Maddox.

“Today’s verdict affirms a multi-year investigation of public corruption in the City of Tallahassee,”stated Acting U.S. Attorney Coody. “Our citizens deserve and expect that those in public office will act in the public’s interest, rather than their own and that of their confederates. Those who violate their oath and betray the public’s trust will be the subject of this office and our law enforcement partners’ unwavering efforts, which will continue beyond this verdict.”

“Our citizens are entitled to decisions based on the best interests of the public, not the best interests of corrupt public officials and bribe-paying business owners seeking to line their own pocketbooks,” said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division.

“Let there be no doubt – bribes are not good business in Tallahassee, nor anywhere else. The FBI remains fully committed to ensuring that anyone who violates the public’s trust is held accountable.”

Burnette’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 28, 2021, at 1:00 pm at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee before the Honorable United States District Judge Robert L. Hinkle.

Burnette faces maximum penalties of 20 years in prison for Counts Two, Five, and Six (the Extortion and Honest Services Fraud offenses) and 5 years for Counts Eight and Nine (the Use of Interstate Facilities to Promote Bribery and Making False Statements to a Federal Officer offenses).

Scott Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 9, 2021, at 10:00 am at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee before the Honorable United States

District Judge Robert L. Hinkle. Both Maddox and Smith face maximum penalties of 20 years in prison for the Honest Services Wire Fraud and Honest Services Mail Fraud offenses and 5 years in prison for the Conspiracy to Defraud the United States offense.

The conviction was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The case against Maddox and Carter-Smith was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen M. Kunz, and Andrew J. Grogan of the Northern District of Florida, and Deputy Chief Peter M. Nothstein, and Trial Attorney Rosaleen T. O’Gara of the Department of Justice, Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.


11 Responses to "US Attorney Comments on Burnette Conviction"

  1. When and where is there going to be a yard sale on all of John and Scott’s suits, and Paige’s fancy dresses? Crooks all of them orange will be their color.!

  2. @Hope

    LOL, you ain’t kidding about the Mary Ann Lindley drivel. Deranged lunatic cannot formulate one coherent string of logic in that entire piece. could not finish it.

    TR = Best Local News! keep it coming.

  3. If anyone wants to read a piece of drivel in the Tallahassee Democrat today by Mary Ann Lindley it is waiting.

    Her lack of self-awareness thinking she was even close to being a credible journalist is mind-boggling. She was an enabler, promoter, and PR shill to the corruption making her part of the problem.

    Her screed only verifies how oblivious and arrogant she was to it yet participating in it to use as stepping stones into public office, where she could do further destruction.

    It is so jumbled and quite unreadable good luck making it through it (I could not). I would suggest taking a medication for nausea before reading..

  4. @ Frank,

    Unfortunately that is business as usual in Tallahassee and Leon County. I believe there is a lot worse that gets swept under the carpet and ignored. She should have resigned but yet they think nothing of it and spend our tax dollars to go on junkets to the beach where she is sitting right now down in Amelia Island on our dime.

    They are in it for themselves and don’t give a care about who they took an oath to serve. All these holdovers need to go, resign, get indicted, and go to prison.

    It would be nice to see a few more indictments. Gary Yordon seems to be an unindicted co-conspirator and that perplexes me. Life is not fair sometimes, but it is in God’s hands.

  5. Burnette sold Kristin Dozier a house on Terrace street for about 2/3 its value which she turned around and sold for full market value. Is anyone not interested in this?? Could it be that her Father, Laurie Dozier is a principal in MD construction who is the city’s ‘hallowed’ green, sustainability, eco…whatever construction company and is on their we will protect them’ list.

  6. Considering all the guilty leftists its amazing how just the one and only registered Republican gets convicted. The former head of The Democrat Party of Florida and his eff buddy will only get slapped on the wrist.
    Justice leftist style.
    I dont think this is the justice Erwin Jackson was looking for.

  7. “Honest Services Fraud by Bribery and one count of Conspiring to Interfere with the Lawful Function of the IRS.”

    Have you ever read anything more ignorant and intellectually insulting in your entire life?

    Blatant Public Corruption defined as “Honest” and “Interference”

    Now you know why DemoKKKrats are never held accountable… Alynski Semantics meets the malleable masses of twidiots.

    God help us all.

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