A major with the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of unlawful procurement of naturalization. He pled not guilty to all nine counts.
Officials with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee said 47-year-old Major Terry McBurney was indicted Wednesday.
They said he was also charged with making false statements under oath related to his application for U.S. citizenship and naturalization status, as well as being charged with wire fraud.
Thursday, McBurney pled not guilty to nine counts.
McBurney's attorney, Luke Evans, made the following statement Thursday:
"On behalf of Mr. McBurney, obviously this is a devastating time for him to have such allegations made against you. Has to be gut wrenching for anyone. As you heard in court earlier, he's entered pleas of not guilty as to all the counts of the indictment. He's persisting in that plea, and we're going to continue to work through this case to ensure that his rights are protected."
Reports stated McBurney was born in Ireland. He submitted an application for employment to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office in September 2010.
McBurney also submitted a completed Department of Homeland Security Form I-9, employment verification eligibility, at that time.
On both documents, McBurney marked that he was a citizen of the United States.
A few months later in December 2010, he submitted an application to the Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission. That form was also marked that he was a U.S. citizen.
Officials confirmed McBurney was not a citizen.
He obtained the POST certification in May 2011 making him eligible to receive a $600 a year pay supplement, which he got in 2013, 2015, and 2016.
According to reports, McBurney was promoted to captain at the sheriff’s office in 2013 and again to major in January 2016.
One of the requirements that must be met to hold those positions was to be a U.S. citizen.
According to the indictment, he was not a citizen at that time.
The indictment also alleged that in September 2015, McBurney submitted an application for naturalization to seek the status of a United States citizen.
He then participated in an interview for that application in December 2015.
During that process with an immigration officer of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, McBurney denied ever claiming to be a United States citizen in writing or any other form.
Authorities said McBurney took the oath of allegiance and was naturalized as a citizen on February 24, 2016.
Reports said he was facing up to ten years in prison if convicted on the charge of unlawful procurement of naturalization or citizenship. McBurney was also facing up to five years for making a false statement under oath in a matter relating to naturalization and up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud.
There was also a $250,000 fine facing McBurney for each charge and a possible revocation of his U.S. citizenship.