High-profile New Jersey Democrat George Norcross charged with racketeering

High-profile New Jersey Democrat George Norcross charged with racketeering

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin unsealed a 13-count indictment alleging racketeering against southern New Jersey political heavyweight George E. Norcross III, one of the state’s most powerful Democrats.

The charges, laid out in an 111-page indictment, accuse Norcross of using his influence over government entities to acquire lucrative waterfront real estate in Camden, N.J.

Alongside Norcross, the state charged Philip Norcross, his brother; former Camden Mayor Dana Redd; William M. Tambussi, Norcross’s personal attorney; and John O’Donnell.

“The state alleges that George Norcross has been running a criminal enterprise in the state for at least the last 12 years. This alleged conduct of the Norcross enterprise has caused great harm to individuals, businesses, nonprofits, the people of the state of New Jersey, and especially to the city of Camden,” Platkin, a fellow Democrat, said at a press conference announcing the indictment.

The FBI and US attorney’s office of New Jersey were also involved in the case.

Platkin said Norcross’s company used its power and influence to gain favor with state and local officials to further its interests. In doing so, the Norcross group was able to obtain the rights to build multiple buildings and hundreds of millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits, the attorney general said.

“They allegedly did this with the complicity and acquiescence of various state and local elected and appointed officials who turned a blind eye to their duties and obligations to the people of New Jersey to instead serve the interests of a powerful few,” he said.

Norcross was sitting in the front seat as Platkin unsealed the indictment against him at the Trenton press conference.

An aide with the attorney general’s office tried to make Norcross move, but he refused. His attorney could be heard on the live press conference feed saying, “Is there someone who deserves to sit here more than the lead defendant in the case?”

In a press conference outside the attorney general’s office, Norcross called Platkin “a coward,” according to Politico.

An attorney for Philip Norcross wrote to The Hill that he is “entirely innocent of these outrageous, politically motivated charges.”

The state alleges that from 2012, Norcross and the other co-conspirators used their power and influence over government officials to craft legislation that would benefit Norcross Enterprise.

According to the indictment, this was possible due to the cooperation of Camden Mayor Dana Reed (D) and other officials.

All six face first-degree racketeering charges, as well as various second-degree counts of financial facilitation, misconduct by a corporate official, and official misconduct and conspiring to commit theft by extortion, criminal coercion, financial facilitation, misconduct by a corporate official, and official misconduct, according to the attorney general’s office.

First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Official misconduct has a minimum jail time of five years.

The arraignment for defendants is scheduled for July 9 in front of a Mercer County judge.

Per the indictment, George Norcross threatened a property developer who held property that Norcross Enterprise wanted to build, saying he would “f— you up like you’ve never been f—– up before.”

The indictment then alleges that George Norcross conspired to have Camden condemn the developer’s property through legal action, and also plotted for city officials to call the developer “not a reputable person.”

The indictment also lays out how Norcross tailored a 2013 tax credit and development state law to benefit his enterprise.

Norcross served on the Democratic National Committee until 2021, when he moved from New Jersey to Florida.

The Norcross family has been involved in South Jersey politics for decades. George Norcross’s brother, Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.), represents Camden in Congress. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

George Norcross III built up the South Jersey Democratic machine, which is one of the most formidable political machines in the country, and exerted his influence in state politics for decades.

His childhood friend, former state Sen. Steve Sweeney, was the president of the state Senate. Sweeney lost his reelection bid in 2021 to a Trump-supporting truck driver who barely raised any money. After Sweeney lost, George Norcross told Politico that he was stepping back from politics.

“This is a great day for democracy,” South Jersey Progressive Democrats President Kate Delany told The Hill.

Sue Altman, a Democrat who is running against Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-N.J.) in the state’s 7th Congressional District, posted on X that “George Norcross and his South Jersey cronies are finding out that breaking the law for personal gain has consequences.”

“It is a new day for New Jersey politics,” she added.

The campaign of Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.), who is the Democratic nominee for Senate, declined to comment on the indictment.

Norcross had backed Kim’s opponent in the primary, Gov. Phil Murphy’s wife, Tammy Murphy. However, Murphy dropped out before the primary election took place.

Kim launched his Senate campaign the day Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted for corruption and bribery, focusing his campaign on restoring public faith.

Updated at 4:02 p.m.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.