NORFOLK, Va. - City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot told News 3 that he will not step down from his position despite city council's request that he resign by 5 p.m. Thursday.
Norfolk City Council officially asked the City Treasurer to step down during Tuesday's city council meeting.
The resolution passed unanimously.
It’s business as usually inside the Norfolk City Treasurer’s Office despite a jury finding Anthony Burfoot guilty of taking bribes and perjury while he served as a councilman and vice mayor.
“Nothing has changed. We are working every day. Things continue to flow the way they're supposed to,” said Amy Ortega, the Chief Deputy Treasurer.
Thursday consisted of the collection of $7.5 million in the City of Norfolk, according Burfoot.
At the advice of his attorney, Burfoot would not speak with us on camera.
But his second in command did, Oretga has worked in the office for 30 years and testified in his case.
“The city tried to step in, and by their statements, they were removing the treasurer from the banking functions which they are not allowed to do because the state code is very clear that the treasurer is the custodian of all city funds,” said Oretga, “They wanted to remove the treasurer’s name from the checks and from the banking but they don't have the authority to do that.”
City leaders say Burfoot is a state employee and they have no control over him but say they now will more closely scrutinize all financial transactions with banks.
They issued the following statement:
Per Council direction in the resolution, the City can and has taken steps to secure City finances. That includes the Department of Finance scrutinizing all financial transactions with banks. City Charter Sections 50 and 65 provide the City Manager and Director of finance with supervisory authority for the custody and disbursement of all city funds. The City isn’t usurping Treasurer functions like collection but merely more carefully supervising its custody and disbursement authority.
Burfoot told News 3 that no one from city council or the mayor has personally asked him to resign.
He’s expected to be sentenced by a judge for his corruption trial in April and his attorney plans to file appeals in the case.
Under state law he’s allowed to stay in office until all appeal efforts are exhausted, unless a judge rules otherwise.
Burfoot has a recall hearing on January 7 and the judge has the right to suspend his position.
On Tuesday Mayor Kenny Alexander explained their position during the meeting and said, “This has been a taxing experience for the citizens of Norfolk but our city is resilient and our city council remains dedicated to restoring public trust and pursuing transparency and working in the best interest of all of our residents.”
However, Alexander refused to speak to the media after the meeting and left the council chambers immediately.
When asked about the resolution Councilman Paul Riddick said, “I think the city did the responsible thing.”
Councilman Tommy Smigiel said, “I think it really sends a message to the public that we’re serious about this. We want to make sure we have the trust but once again we’re so limited in what we can do as a council.”
The resolution that passed states, “City Council directs the City Manager to take all actions necessary to secure the City’s financial assets, including but not limited to all city taxes, levies, assessments, rents, fees and all other revenues accruing to the city.”
City officials explained they are trying to protect the financial integrity, however the Treasurer’s Office said they can’t control operations.
“The jury has rendered a verdict and the process is not over yet there's a lot ahead of us. There's no reason for him to resign at this time. He's not going to abandon the job that he was elected to do and is continuing to do faithfully,” according to Burfoot's attorney Andrew Sacks.
Sacks said Burfoot wants a fair opportunity to appeal his case.