Kansas City man being sent to prison for hiding excess assets

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 | 4:06 p.m. CST

KANSAS CITY — A Kansas City man has been sentenced to three years and five months in prison for failing to disclose millions of dollars in bank accounts while paying only $10 per week toward $1.3 million in federal restitution.

Clarence D. Burnett, 38, was given the punishment Tuesday by a federal judge, The Kansas City Star reported.

Burnett was sentenced in 2001 to 15 years in prison on federal drug and theft charges, but that sentence later was reduced to 10 years. He was released from prison in 2007 and placed on supervised release for five years.

The Star reported that Burnett was the government's chief witness against four men convicted in 2001 of stealing more than $2.5 million in jewelry during a robbery of Tivol Jewels on the Country Club Plaza in 1997.

Burnett acknowledged organizing that heist and more than a dozen other robberies or attempted robberies. He turned on his co-conspirators to reduce his prison exposure in the Tivol robbery and a previous drug conviction.

In 2000, he also provided authorities with information that helped convict former Kansas City Chiefs players Tamarick Vanover and Bam Morris of car theft and drug trafficking respectively.

Defense lawyers contended for years that Burnett would testify to anything to cut a possible life sentence on the drug case.

He began making small payments toward his restitution after being released from prison in 2007, returning to the real estate business that always had been an interest for him.

He told his probation officer he was making about $1,700 a month from his real estate and auto detailing businesses. He reported that he drove a 2004 Ford Ranger and later upgraded his salary to $1,800 a month and purchased a 2010 Chevrolet Silverado.

But prosecutors said he never told his probation officer that he also ran six other real estate firms that had purchased dozens of properties in Jackson County with about $2.7 million in bank loans.

He had eight bank accounts showing maximum balances totaling more than $1 million in 2011 and 2012. He also purchased two Mercedes-Benz automobiles, more than $25,000 in furniture, about $33,000 in clothing and more than $17,000 in jewelry. In 2009 and 2010, Burnett was seen driving and servicing two high-end BMW automobiles, prosecutors said.

"Defendant failed to disclose this information to the United States Probation Office," federal court records noted.

Federal prosecutors did not contend that he got any of the money from illicit sources but rather that he simply failed to tell his probation officer about it.


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