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Atlantic City Mayor Resigns

Mayor Of Atlantic City Resigns After Pleading Guilty To Stealing From Youth Basketball Team

Atlantic City’s Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. pleaded guilty to stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball team, followed by a resignation from office Thursday.

Gilliam Jr. appeared in federal court in Camden, where it came out that half of the amount of money he took from the Atlantic City Starz was recovered from his home when FBI agents raided it last December. He was released after posting a $100,000 bond with the court, according to Associated Press.

By the close of the business day, the mayor had resigned from office.

“It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as the Mayor of the City of Atlantic City, effective immediately,” Gilliam wrote in a letter filed with the city clerk. “My sincere apologies to each constituent that voted for me and had high hopes in my tenure.”

The resignation came just as New Jersey officials began working to remove him from office.

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said his office had filed papers in state Superior Court seeking to have Gilliam removed under the state’s Forfeiture of Public Office law. Gilliam, 49, also faced calls from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and other elected Democrats urging him to resign.

At his court appearance, Gilliam told U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez he stole funds raised from basketball team donors in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, which he used for personal expenses from 2013 to 2018. He was elected mayor in 2017 after serving as a city councilman.

“When a scheme depletes (a) charity for children, it’s unconscionable,” said Gregory Ehrie, FBI Special Agent in Charge. “But when the fraud is perpetrated by someone the public trusts, it damages the community’s confidence in their public servants. This defendant betrayed the trust of his community and of people who wanted to improve the lives of children.”

Gilliam’s lawyer, Harry Rimm, stressed that Gilliam admitted to taking private money, not public funds. 

“Mr. Gilliam, who is a lifelong resident of Atlantic City, has admitted his wrongful conduct, is accepting responsibility for his actions, and is genuinely remorseful,” said Rimm in a statement issued after the court appearance.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Gilliam solicited donations while a member of the City Council and then as mayor under the false pretense that they were for the youth basketball team or for school supplies for poor children, according to the publication.

In reality, the prosecutor said, Gilliam used the money for luxury clothing, expensive meals, and trips.

In a speech, several hours after Gilliam’s guilty plea, Gov. Murphy called on the mayor to resign, calling his conduct “despicable.” The city will remain under state supervision due to its chronic budgeting and other problems.

“Atlantic City is a strong and resilient community that is on the rise after years of stagnation,” Gov. Murphy said. “This progress can only continue with leadership whose sole focus is on what he or she can do for the betterment of all residents of Atlantic City and not for themselves.”

It’s reported  Gilliam could face 20 years in prison when he is sentenced January 7, 2020. He also agreed to make restitution for the fraud.

The mayor left his home early Thursday, clutching his passport, declining comment to reporters other than to say, “Have a good day.”

Atlantic City Mayor Resigns

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