Belfast Telegraph

Ulster-born top US cop who backs Trump on migrants 'lied over citizenship'

By Sean O'Driscoll

A senior US police officer originally from Northern Ireland is to appear in court next month accused of lying about his citizenship.

Major Terry McBurney, from Newcastle, Co Down, is a strong supporter of Donald Trump's immigration policies and shows strong backing for the President-elect on social media.

He has been indicted in Tennessee on nine charges of unlawful procurement of US residency, making false statements under oath, and wire fraud.

The wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

He pleaded not guilty in court last month and was released on bail.

He is due back in court again next month, when he will likely answer the charges.

McBurney, whose rank matches that of a British deputy inspector, was a vocal supporter of Trump's presidential campaign and his strong stand on Muslim immigration.

He used Twitter and Facebook to republish Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative commentators' criticism of Hillary Clinton, and he retweeted Trump's claim that more British Muslims were joining Isis than the British Army.

His arrest coincided with a Tennessee treasury comptroller report into alleged corruption in the Rutherford Sheriff's Department in the state.

Rutherford, which includes the city of Murfreesboro, lies in the centre of Tennessee, adjacent to Nashville.

The report alleges that Major McBurney (47) claimed several times that he was a US citizen to receive promotions and bonuses.

The report found that Major McBurney had emigrated with his family from Co Down when he was 14.

It lists his initial employment in the police department as December 1999 to January 2008, when the Democrat sheriff fired him for allegedly stealing a TV from an apartment where he assisted with an eviction.

Robert Arnold, a Republican, was elected sheriff in August 2010 and rehired Mr McBurney, and later promoted him several times.

He allegedly signed police promotion and training documents in September 2010 and May 2012 asserting that he was a US citizen, the report alleges.

The comptroller's report noted McBurney didn't become a US citizen until February 24, 2016, after being interviewed by the comptroller's inspectors.

"The deputy made false statements on his Tennessee Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) application when he claimed he was a United States citizen," the comptroller's report said.

"On the application dated December 16, 2010, the deputy stated he was a citizen of the United States, which is a requirement of qualifying to receive training. "When questioned on February 17, 2016, by investigative auditors, the deputy, who has received multiple promotions and now holds the rank of major, stated he was a US citizen.

"However, he was not a US citizen, and did not become a US citizen until February 24, 2016, after investigators questioned him," it said.

It also says that he lied about being fired on police documents, and the comptroller's report reprints a form in which McBurney said he was never fired or faced serious disciplinary action.

Sheriff Arnold is currently in jail awaiting trial after the comptroller's report accused him of profiting from a company that supplies e-cigarette to jailhouse inmates.

Local media published an audio recording of Sheriff Arnold calling Major McBurney from prison.

Both he and Major McBurney deny any wrongdoing, according to their lawyers.

Luke Evans, Major McBurney's attorney, told reporters that the arrest was "gut-wrenching" for his client.

"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," Evans explained to reporters.

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