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Developer sentenced in Political Corruption Case

November 9th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Scott Maddox, the former Mayor of Tallahassee and his longtime business partner report to a yet to be disclosed Federal prison today after convictions for honest services and tax fraud in August. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, they enter prison the same day the man who paid them a hundred thousand in bribes is sentenced to three years in prison and a 1.25 million dollar fine in Federal Court.

Tallahassee Developer JT Burnette entered the federal courthouse facing  70 years on five corruption convictions.

The question, “Was it worth it?” Went unanswered as he entered the courthouse.

Burnette was convicted of bribing former Tallahassee Mayor and two time statewide candidate Scott Maddox and his business partner.

None of the convictions were likely without Erwin Jackson. He spent the last dozen years battling corruption in the state Capitol.

“And he decided he would rather write a check and gain an advantage over his competition, and that’s a problem with the business community.” Jackson told us before heading to the courthouse to see Burnette’s sentencing.

To draw attention to the corruption, Jackson handed out plies of real cash at a city commission meeting in September 2017. 

“I put on a visual display about what corruption is” Jackson told us at the time.

The FBI conducted at least two investigations and likely impacted the 2018 race for governor, when mayor Andrew Gillum faced off against Ron DeSantis. The GOP used the investigation to slam Gillum in TV spots across the state that said: ”Twenty FBI agents spent two yers investigating the city during Andrew gillum’s tenure.”

DeSantis won by four tenths of a percent.

Ethics watchdog Ben Wilcox says the Capital City continues to pay a price.

“Nobody wants to come to a community that’s known for pay to play corruption” said Wilcox, adding that everyone in the community is paying a “corruption tax” in fewer jobs and higher city spending.

Jackson’s day job is renting apartments to students, and his annual property taxes run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.” 

We asked Jackson why he cared so deeply for so long.

”Every time I see a dollar being stolen from the city, I think is my personal dollar” was his response.

 And while many in the city hail the sentencing as the conclusion of a sad time, Jackson says it ’s far from over.

And Jackson plans to present evidence of theft by a former city manager at the Tallahassee city commission meeting tomorrow, and believes more indictments are coming.

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