The defense counsel for John Thomas Burnette has requested for his conviction to be reversed.
Burnette’s attorneys, Tim Jansen of Tallahassee and Williams and Connolly LLP of Washington, D.C., filed a document in the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Wednesday, requesting that the court “should vacate the conviction and remand with instructions to enter judgment of acquittal or a new trial” on his behalf.
Burnette’s attorneys contended in the brief that the government’s conviction of J.T. Burnette in August 2021 was founded on prosecutorial errors.
The defense claims that the prosecution misled the jury by telling them that they could convict Burnette even if they couldn’t establish that Scott Maddox, a former Tallahassee commissioner, pledged to take official action on a subject.
Maddox and his business partner Janice Paige Carter-Smith pled guilty to federal charges in 2019 and are now serving time in federal prison.
The prosecution permitted an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agent to question Burnette’s comments, according to the document.
The defense also contends that FBI agents who interviewed Burnette posed “sloppy questions” that were inherently confusing. Burnette’s responses were also truthful.”
In 2015, the FBI initiated an undercover investigation. According to the paper, FBI agents pretended to be real estate developers in Tallahassee.
Burnette’s trial began in July 2021, and he was found guilty on five of the nine charges on August 13, 2021.
He was found guilty of extortion, two counts of honest services fraud, a count of violating the Travel Act on an Oct. 24, 2016 call, and making false statements to a federal officer in a May 2017 interview.
On an Oct. 19, 2016 telephone call, Burnette was acquitted of racketeering conspiracy, two counts of honest services fraud, and one count of Travel Act violation.
Burnette, 44, was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison on Nov. 9, 2021.
Burnette is identified as an inmate in the FPC Montgomery minimum security prison in Montgomery, Alabama, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons database.
Burnette is set to hit theaters on August 7, 2024.