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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Former City of Vallejo Employee Sentenced for Accepting a Bribe

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Donald Burton, 51, of Vallejo, was sentenced today to a year in prison and a $10,000 fine for his part in a bribery scheme involving city contracts, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

“When public officials take bribes, they put their greed ahead of the interests of the people they serve,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “Donald Burton abused his position as a landscape manager in the City of Vallejo by seeking kickbacks in exchange for steering contacts to a private company. The FBI is committed to investigating public corruption. With the help of private citizens who take a stand against corrupt behavior, the FBI will continue to protect the integrity of government at all levels.”

Burton pleaded guilty on August 1, 2017. According to court documents, Burton was previously employed in the Public Works Engineering Division of the City of Vallejo as the landscape manager. In that position, Burton regularly contracted with local landscape companies to provide services for Vallejo. The City of Vallejo received substantial federal funding, including over $500,000 in Community Development Block Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the Spring of 2017, Burton solicited a bribe from the owner of a company that provides maintenance services, requesting a 10 percent kickback in exchange for steering contracts to that company. The business owner complained to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and assisted in the investigation by meeting with Burton in an undercover capacity. During those meetings, Burton directed that additional days of work be added to contracted jobs so that Burton and the owner could divide up the profit. Burton stated that the excess amount in the contracts would generally add up to $5,000, and that Burton would take $2,000.

According to the plea agreement, the business owner provided the written contracts that inflated the number of days required to do a job from 10 days to 15, and Burton approved and signed the contracts. On June 7, 2017, the business owner met with Burton and gave him the $2,000 bribe payment. Burton was arrested after taking the payment.

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared C. Dolan prosecuted the case.

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 
2:17-cr-121 JAM
Updated November 14, 2017