Record tampering trial of former state Rep. Kerry Burt underway - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Record tampering trial of former state Rep. Kerry Burt underway


The trial of a former state representative accused of records tampering is now underway.  Kerry Burt is one of several people accused of lying about where he lived in order to gain admission and pay cheaper tuition at Price Lab School in Cedar Falls.

There was a lot of development in court Wednesday.  The state called witnesses and rested its case.  And the defense will continue calling witnesses Thursday.  There have been questions about possible jury tampering, which still remain unresolved.  But the case is moving forward and could soon be in the hands of the jury.

Kerry Burt sat as the lone defendant in court Wednesday.  He and several other parents have been accused of submitting false addresses to gain admission to Price Lab School.  Witnesses testified that Burt had first attempted to open enroll his children from Waterloo into Price Lab but was denied.

"He had met with school personal and they had indicated that he needed an address in the zone," Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation agent Scott Green said.

Burt followed that policy and submitted an address for a residence in Price Lab's primary attendance zone.  But Burt never lived at the Cedar Falls address he submitted, rather his niece and family did.  And by turning in a false address on an application to Price Lab, the state argues that Burt is guilty of records tampering.

"What the evidence will show in this case is that it was the defendant who chose to falsify the records.  That it was the defendant that anyone looking at those records would have been deceived as to where the children lived," said Scott Brown, Iowa Assistant Attorney General.

The defense argues that Burt never intended to deceive anyone or conceal wrongdoing by submitting a false address to the school since administrators, other staff, and students knew he didn't live in the Price Lab attendance zone.  The defense submitted everything from checks to information on Burt's former state legislative website showing his Waterloo address on Hawthorne Avenue.

"And what is that?" defense attorney Ray Walton said.

"It's a listing of the state representatives by district," said Billie Heth with the Iowa Auditor's office.

"And again was that for the purpose of determining what Mr. Burt's address was?"  Walton said.

"Yes," said Heth.

"And does that indicate 150 Hawthorne?" said Walton.

"Yes it does," said Heth.

The state rested its case after calling just four witnesses.  And then the defense asked for Burt to be acquitted.  But that motion was denied by the judge.

UNI President Ben Allen and Dean Bill Callahan were called by the defense to testify Wednesday afternoon.  Both talked about the chain of command at Price Lab, and said that ultimately, Price Lab's former director Dave Smith had say over admissions at the time in question. However, both testified that Smith in no way had the privilege to break the law or allow others to break the law by submitting false addresses to the school.

Testimony will likely wrap Thursday and the case may be to the jury Friday.

Now as you may recall, two other parents and one grandparent were convicted of records tampering in January after they submitted false addresses to gain admission to Price Lab.  They were sentenced to good behavior.  Another parent made a plea deal and is scheduled for sentencing this Friday.

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