TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) – The first witness on the stand on day two of JT Burnette’s extortion, racketeering and fraud trial: Kaiser Kane owner Mellisa Oglesby.
The testimony includes his relationship with JT Burnette. How he put her in touch with Governance and used her business for quick loans when acquiring Double Tree.
Oglesby says JT Burnette gave him a loan to start his business in the early 2000s. He was not an owner or official employee, but was always involved in the business and its finances. KaiserKane was a construction company that hired subcontractors to work on projects, mostly federal.
In cross-examination, the defense also focused on the family relationship. Burnette and Oglesby are cousins, who even briefly lived together in Monticello.
According to Oglesby, in January 2014, Burnette encouraged her to work with Governance, the consulting firm of Scott Maddox and Paige Carter Smith, to get help with a General Services Administration (GSA) project. , subcontracting work on federal buildings. She says he told her and her business partner to “work smarter, not harder.”
A provision of $ 10,000 was sent in order to obtain this employment. The contract provided that Governance would receive a success fee once KaiserKane was paid for his work. But a month later, another bigger bill arrived.
This $ 100,000 bill was a surprise to Oglesby.
She says she asked her finance team to delay the payment. But Burnette said she should pay.
A KaiserKane accountant said Oglesby “was not happy with the response but paid for it. She said it was ridiculous.”
The $ 100,000 was then revealed to be for Burnette’s purchase of the DoubleTree Hotel.
By this time, he had also borrowed around $ 4.2 million from KaiserKane.
Eventually, Oglesby says she felt the business was too headache and was losing money, so she closed the business.
“I was just fed up with it all,” Oglesby said.
When asked to discuss money with Burnette, she said, “I wasn’t going to argue with him about it. I trusted JT. This is my cousin. He was my mentor.
Defense attorney Tim Jansen called the GSA “the owner of every federal building in the United States.” This is the company that Oglesby assumed governance would help him get involved with.
Since the GSA is owned by the federal government, it follows the federal budget which ends in September. Oglesby said she signed the governance deal in January, but GSA money only flows towards the end of the budget.
The defense argued that Oglesby should have known that more jobs would be available closer to the end of the fiscal year budget; August and September.
In cross-examination, Burnette’s attorney asked Oglesby how much she made in 2015. Oglesby testified that she made $ 3 million. Defense counsel argued that without Burnette, she could not have made that kind of money.
The defense also mentioned the first Governance contract and the second. Jansen said his first contract would charge KaiserKane before a job was finished, but Burnette negotiated a better deal that got them to pay afterward. Oglesby says it’s true, she never got a job from Governance under this deal.
The second witness to appear was Melissa Whitaker. Whitaker was an accountant with Bean Team under contract to work for KaiserKane.
Whitaker says Oglesby was the only person authorized to sign money.
The last witness of the day was former Bean Team owner Charles Musgrove. Musgrove testified under an offer agreement. This means that no matter what he says under oath, he cannot be prosecuted for it.
Bean Team was one of the many businesses that Burnette advised her cousin to use. Musgrove says about 50 percent of Bean Team’s work involved a JT Burnette business.
Musgrove’s testimony continues into the morning.
JT BURNETTE TEST: DAY ONE
Tim Jansen used his opening statements, likening the undercover operation to a movie. Using those same secret tapes to prove that Burnette was not the link between those FBI agents and Maddox. He says this lawsuit is a case of “government overtaking”
The jury selection lasted almost four hours. In the end, 10 women and four men were seated.
Corruption at the town hall is the scandal that the FBI published on February 5, 2018.
It was at this point that Scott Maddox, who was Tallahassee City Commissioner, and Paige Carter-Smith, who was Director of the Downtown Improvement Authority, were named in the affidavits of the search warrants.
These documents indicate that through a consultancy firm called Governance, they were paid to vote for various groups pushing to settle in Tallahassee.
Maddox called the claims false a week later.
In December of that year, federal prosecutors found enough to charge him with 44 counts, including bribery, extortion, bank fraud and racketeering.
A day later, former Governor Rick Scott suspended Maddox. Carter Smith has also stepped down from his role.
Not finished with the players on hand, prosecutors indicted Tallahassee businessman JT Burnette on May 9, 2019.
In August of the same year, Maddox and Carter Smith pleaded guilty. The plea deal only covered three counts: two for extortion and one for tax evasion. Thirty-nine of the charges were dropped as a result of this plea deal.
On the same day, the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched a new statewide division made up of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, agents from the FBI, IRS, and the Department of Justice to crack down on all forms of crime. corruption in government.
After three delays, JT Burnette is now on trial.