Former Rutherford County sheriff’s official pleads guilty to lying about citizenship

Former Rutherford County Sheriff’s Maj. Terry McBurney has pleaded guilty to lying about being a U.S. citizen to become a licensed law officer, reports the Daily News Journal.

McBurney, an immigrant from Ireland who resigned from the Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 27, joined ex-sheriff Robert Arnold, Arnold’s uncle John Vanderveer and former sheriff’s administration chief Joe Russell in pleading guilty to felonies within the past couple of weeks.

McBurney, 47, has a sealed agreement  with the prosecution, said U.S. District Court  Chief Judge Kevin Sharp, who noted he holds final authority on sentencing.

“I’m not party to your plea agreement,” said Sharp, who scheduled the sentencing hearing to take place at 1:30 p.m. May 12 with another judge presiding after he resigns from the court  April 15.

McBurney pleaded guilty to nine counts with two related to lying and falsifying documents to continue being a law enforcement officer. The other seven charges pertained to wire fraud, so he could be paid for positions he was ineligible to hold because he was not a U.S. Citizen.

Judge Kevin Sharp asked McBurney several questions to ensure the defendant understood the agreement, and was pleading guilty and waiving the right to a jury trial.

“I am,” McBurney said before the judge repeated asking the defendant whether the former major was guilty or not guilty. “Guilty.”

Each of the nine counts includes up to a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, three years of supervised release and the possibility of paying for incarceration costs if he’s able.

McBurney’s unlawful procurement of naturalization count has up to a 10-year sentence, and the charge of making false statements under oath relating to his application for U.S. citizenship has up to a five-year sentence, the judge said. Each of the other seven counts of wire fraud has up to 20-year sentences.

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