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Former Rutherford County Sheriff's Major Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Obtaining U.S. Citizenship

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Terry McBurney, 47, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and former Major with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department, pleaded guilty Friday (2/3/17) in U.S. District Court to charges of unlawful procurement of naturalization; making false statements under oath in matters relating to his application for U.S. citizenship and naturalization status; and wire fraud, announced Jack Smith, Acting U.S. Attorney for the administration of this case. These charges arose from an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in November 2016.

According to the indictment, McBurney was born in Ireland. In September 2010 McBurney submitted an application for employment to the Rutherford County Sherriff's Office and also submitted a completed Department of Homeland Security Form I-9, Employment Verification Eligibility. Both documents were marked indicating that McBurney was a United States citizen. In December 2010 McBurney submitted an application to the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission that was also marked indicating that he was a United States citizen. During the plea hearing, McBurney admitted that he was not in fact a United States citizen.

McBurney obtained Tennessee POST certification in May 2011which made him eligible to receive a $600 per year pay supplement and he received supplemental payments of $600 in 2013, 2015, and 2016. In 2013, McBurney was promoted to the position of captain in the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office and on or about January 18, 2016, McBurney was again promoted, this time to the position of major. Rutherford County required individuals holding the position of captain or major to meet a number of requirements, including being a United States citizen. McBurney also admitted during the plea hearing, that he was not a United States citizen at this time.

The indictment further alleged that McBurney submitted an application for naturalization to seek status of a United States citizen in September 2015 and participated in an interview regarding the application in December 2015. On the application and during an interview with an immigration officer of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, McBurney denied that he had ever claimed to be a United States citizen in writing or any other way. On February 24, 2016, McBurney took the oath of allegiance and was naturalized as a United States citizen. McBurney admitted that he in fact made false statements in order to procure U.S. citizenship.

McBurney will be sentenced on May 12, 2017. He faces up to 10 years in prison for unlawful procurement of naturalization or citizenship, up to 5 years for making a false statement under oath in a matter relating to naturalization, and up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud. McBurney also faces a $250,000 fine for each charge and possible revocation of his U.S. citizenship.

This case was investigated by ICE- Homeland Security Investigations and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda J. Klopf is prosecuting the case.

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