Local Businessman J.T. Burnette Indicted In FBI Tallahassee Corruption Probe

May 9, 2019

Tallahassee businessman J.T. Burnette has been indicted in an FBI probe into public corruption in the City of Tallahassee.

Former City Commissioner Scott Maddox and his former aide Paige Carter-Smith are already facing dozens of charges stemming from the inquiry. They’re accused of accepting bribes in exchange for votes and the FBI alleges Burnette was part of the scheme. 

Burnette is charged with racketeering, conspiracy and extortion along with mail fraud and making false statements to federal officials.

The charging documents say he served as a point of contact and  directed payments between a developer and Maddox. The company was an FBI front set up as part of its investigation. The indictment says Burnette also agreed to a 20% kickback from the deal.  

The documents note Burnette also described Maddox as being “vengeful”.

From the Indictment:

“After the Company F began paying money to Governance and Gov. Services, Burnette told the representatives they could not stop paying Maddox, agreeing that stopping payments to Maddox would ‘p--- him off more and will vote against,’ them. Burnette further told Company F representatives that Maddox, “is a vengeful mother------. Feed a dog for a year, stop feeding the dog and it gets hungry, he may bite you f------ hand off.”

An attorney for Burnette says he has already surrendered to federal authorities. He’s behind projects such as Hotel Duval and also owns Hunter and Harp.

The federal trial for Maddox and Carter-Smith is slated for November 4. They're accused of using the company Maddox founded and later handed off to Carter-Smith, Governance, as a pass-through for the scheme.