Norfolk Businessman Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Bank Fraud
NORFOLK, Va. – Ronald W. Boone, Sr., 67, of Norfolk, pleaded guilty today to charges related to bribing the Norfolk City Treasurer and multiple other high-ranking Norfolk city officials, in addition to bank fraud.
Conspiracy involving bribery of Norfolk city officials
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, from March 2004 through December 2015, Boone provided cash, gifts, other things of value, and free access to a beach house to Anthony Burfoot, who is the current Norfolk City Treasurer and a former Norfolk City Councilman. In exchange, Burfoot performed specific official actions and promised to engage in future official actions to benefit Boone and his business interests. Throughout the conspiracy, Boone routinely gave Burfoot cash in increments of several thousand dollars, but typically not less than $2,500 at a time. Burfoot always demanded the payments in cash. In addition to the cash payments, on numerous occasions Burfoot asked Boone to “loan” him a few thousand dollars, which Boone provided in cash, and totaled at least $20,000. Burfoot never made payments on these “loans,” and Boone never asked Burfoot for payments on the “loans.”
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, on numerous occasions throughout the conspiracy, Burfoot took different friends to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to stay free of charge at Boone’s beach house. Burfoot never paid for any of his overnight or daily stays at the beach house. Burfoot used the beach house so regularly that Boone gave Burfoot a key to the beach house. To conceal Boone’s ownership of the beach house, Burfoot repeatedly told friends that the beach house was his, and claimed to at least three individuals who went to the beach house with him – each on separate occasions – that he owned the beach house.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in exchange for things of value provided to Burfoot, Boone regularly sought Burfoot’s support for important issues before City Council. In addition to assisting Boone by ensuring that a particular individual was removed from the Board of Commissioners for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Burfoot repeatedly voted in accordance with Boone’s wishes in numerous matters before the council, including but not limited to: special exceptions for a Boone business; special exceptions for business that operated out of Boone’s properties, ordinances dealing with Boone’s properties, and ordinances that directly and indirectly impacted Boone’s business interests. Prior to a certain vote, Boone paid Burfoot between $5,000 and $10,000 in cash, and Burfoot subsequently voted as Boone requested.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, from in or about 2002 through in or about 2012, Boone engaged in a corrupt quid-pro-quo relationship with another high-ranking Norfolk City Official, again providing cash and other things of value in exchange for the public official using his position to benefit Boone.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in or about early 2015, Boone gave an undisclosed, interest-free, undocumented loan of at least $5,000 to another high-ranking employee of the Norfolk City Treasurer’s Office.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in November 2011, Boone obtained a $1 million loan from BB&T Bank, pledging dozens of properties as collateral for the loan, including vacant lots. In October 2015, Boone contacted BB&T and advised them he had agreed to sell two vacant lots for $105,000, and asked BB&T what it would require to release the liens on the properties. In reality, and unbeknownst to BB&T Bank, Boone had built a house on the vacant lots and had agreed to sell the property for $290,000. After BB&T responded indicating they would release the liens for 90 percent of gross sales proceeds, but no less than $94,500, Boone, or someone at his direction, altered the documents to reflect that BB&T would receive a fixed amount of $94,500. After the sale for of the properties for $290,000, Boone pocketed $167,444, and sent BB&T a check for $94,500. In reality, BB&T should have received 90 percent of the sale proceeds, which was $261,000.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Boone also defrauded Fulton Bank to obtain a $13.2 million loan, providing false and fraudulent documents and information to qualify for the loan. The materially false documents included falsified personal financial statements, false tax returns, falsified cash flow statements, falsified lease agreements, inflated rent rolls, and fraudulently inflated bank statements.
Boone was charged yesterday by criminal information with one count of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Boone faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison on January 26, 2017. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Gordon B. Johnson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by Magistrate Judge Robert J. Krask. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa E. O’Boyle is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:16-cr-126.