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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 3, 2019

Second Superseding Indictment Adds Additional Allegations Of Public Corruption

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA – A federal grand jury has returned a nine-count superseding indictment,
unsealed today, against John Thomas Burnette, 42, of Tallahassee, Florida.

United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe of the Northern District of Florida, Assistant Attorney
General Brian A. Benczkowski 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 for conspiring to operate a racketeering enterprise
that engaged in acts of bank fraud, extortion, honest-services fraud and bribery. That indictment
also charged Maddox and Carter-Smith with substantive counts of bank fraud, false statements to
financial institutions, extortion, honest-services fraud, use of interstate facilities to
facilitate bribery, false statements to federal officers, conspiracy to interfere with the lawful
function of the IRS, and filing false tax returns.

In May 2019, the grand jury returned a forty-seven count superseding indictment adding Burnette as
a defendant and charging him with participating in the racketeering conspiracy and extortion,
honest services mail fraud, the use of facilities in interstate commerce to facilitate bribery, and
making false statements to federal officers. Maddox and Carter-Smith subsequently pleaded guilty to
two counts of honest-services fraud and one count of conspiring to interfere with the lawful
function of the IRS. The Government agreed at sentencing to dismiss other charges filed against
Maddox and Carter-Smith in that first superseding indictment.

The grand jury returned a nine-count second superseding indictment against Burnette only. The
charges in the first superseding indictment to which Maddox and Carter-Smith pleaded guilty are
undisturbed by the return of the second superseding indictment against Burnette. The second
superseding indictment does not include any new counts against Burnette; the nine counts from the
first superseding indictment are renumbered Counts One through Nine.

However, the second superseding indictment alleges additional acts of racketeering conspiracy.
Specifically, the second superseding indictment alleges that, in early 2014, Burnette caused a company to pay $110,000 in exchange for Maddox declaring a conflict and not voting at a Tallahassee
City Commission meeting. At that meeting, the Commission was slated to vote on an extension sought
by a hotel development group to allow more time to meet certain City requirements to build a hotel
close to a downtown hotel owned by Burnette. Maddox’s failure to participate resulted in a 2-2 tie
vote by the Commission that denied the hotel development group the extension it sought and ended
its project Burnette has waived arraignment on the second superseding indictment. The trial of this case is
scheduled for November 4, 2019.

The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue
Service – Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephen
M. Kunz, Gary K. Milligan, and Andrew J. Grogan of the Northern District of Florida’s Public Trust
Unit, and Trial Attorneys Simon J. Cataldo, Peter M. Nothstein, and Rosaleen O’Gara of the
Department of Justice, Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

The maximum terms of imprisonment for the offenses are as follows:

•    20 years: Racketeering Conspiracy, Extortion, and Honest Services Fraud
•  5 years:   Use of Interstate Facilities in Furtherance of Bribery, Making False Statements to a
Federal Officer

An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of
federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and
entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that
serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access
public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
Florida
website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern
a, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Contact: 
U.S. Attorney Office Northern District of Florida 850-216-3845 USAFLN.Press.Office@usdoj.gov
Updated October 3, 2019