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Scott Maddox reports to federal prison camp in public corruption case

Tallahassee businessman J.T. Burnette sentenced to 3 years in prison

TALLAHASSEE – Scott Maddox, the former Mayor of Tallahassee, and his longtime business partner reported to a yet to be disclosed federal prison on Tuesday after convictions for honest services and tax fraud in August.

Scott Maddox was sentenced to five years in prison, and Paige Carter-Smith was sentenced to two years.

They entered prison the same day as local businessman, J.T Burnette, 44, who paid them in bribes. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison for his role in a local corruption scheme. Burnette was also fined $1.25 million.

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 the 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 said 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 said 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 years investigating the city during Andrew Gillum’s tenure.”

DeSantis won by four-tenths of a percent.

Ethics watchdog Ben Wilcox said 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 has 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,” he said.

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

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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