Atlantic City mayor resigns, pleads guilty to stealing from youth basketball team

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The mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey was compelled to resign in shame on Friday after admitting to stealing from a charitable youth basketball team he founded, and his party affiliation was made clear by the not-so-subtle reluctance of the media to identify him as a Democrat.

Mayor Frank Gilliam, Jr. submitted his resignation on Friday after admitting in a court hearing Thursday that he had stolen approximately $87,000 from the Atlantic City Starz and used those donated funds to finance his own lavish lifestyle, according to Fox News.

Stolen donations

Gilliam’s theft of the funds for the youth basketball team occurred between 2013 and 2018. He had formed the team while serving as a member of the city council prior to being elected mayor in 2017.

Prosecutors in the case explained that Gilliam solicited donations that were ostensibly for the benefit of the Atlantic City Starz or for purchasing school supplies for underprivileged students in the city. Instead, however, he used the money raised to treat himself to expensive clothing, fine dining, and trips that had nothing to do with the basketball team comprised of underprivileged students.

Gilliam was released from custody on $100,000 bond and will face trial in January. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. FBI agents raided his home in December and reportedly recovered half of the stolen funds, and Gilliam has agreed to pay back the remainder as restitution in addition to a substantial fine.

Resignation submitted

Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate reported that Gilliam stated in a letter, “It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as the Mayor of the City of Atlantic City, effective immediately.”

“I would like to apologize to the residents of the great City of Atlantic City who deserve stability and respect. My sincere apologies to each constituent that voted for me and had high hopes in my tenure,” the now-former mayor added.

Prior to the submission of his resignation there had already been calls from numerous elected officials — including the state’s governor and attorney general — for him to step down from office. The current president of the Atlantic City council, Marty Small, was sworn in as the mayor in Gilliam’s place on Friday.

Scandal-plagued city

NBC affiliate WCAU reported that U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement, “Mayor Gilliam took advantage of his victims’ desire to assist underprivileged children by falsely representing that the money contributed to the AC Starz Basketball Club would go to pay for school supplies or to support youth basketball … Instead, he spent the money on himself.”

FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie said, “When a scheme depletes charity for children, it’s unconscionable.” He added, “But when the fraud is perpetrated by someone the public trusts, it damages the community’s confidence in their public servants.”

The report from WCAU further noted that this wasn’t Gilliam’s first brush with scandal or the law and stated that Gilliam had been accused of voter fraud in the 2017 election, of stealing $10,000 from the Atlantic City Democratic Committee, and of being involved in a brawl outside a casino in 2018.

It was also noted that Gilliam is now the fourth of the city’s past eight mayors dating back to 2007 who have run afoul of the law, a time period in which roughly one-third of the city council members have also been arrested and imprisoned for one reason or another. Good riddance to the corrupt politicians at the helm of that Democrat-controlled city.

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