Atlantic City mayor stole tens of thousands of dollars from youth basketball team

Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam, pleaded guilty on Thursday of committing wire fraud after he stole tens of thousands of dollars from a youth basketball team.

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Gilliam was the co-founder of The AC Starz Basketball Club, a South Jersey-based program for boys from the sixth grade to eighth grade. Utilizing this platform, the FBI said that Gilliam did significant fundraising and made “the false pretense that the contributions were for a youth basketball team and/or school supplies for underprivileged children.”

All told, Gilliam stole $87,215 from the AAU program.

Gilliam took the funds, and rather than invest in the team, he spent the money “on luxury designer clothing, expensive meals, and personal trips to various locations.” As part of his plea deal, Gilliam agreed to make full restitution for the stolen money.

“When a scheme depletes charity for children, it's unconscionable but when the fraud is perpetrated by someone the public trusts, it damages the community's confidence in their public servants,” said Gregory W. Ehrie, FBI special agent in charge.

“This defendant betrayed the trust of his community and of people who wanted to improve the lives of children. The FBI is committed to uncovering fraud and corruption. If you break the law, no matter who you are, you will face the consequences.”

An FBI raid last December of the mayor’s home recovered $41,000 of the lost funds.

The program was hailed by the local media for instilling character in its players. Of note, there is no evidence of Gilliam defrauding or stealing from taxpayers or Atlantic City.

Although Gilliam has voluntarily begun the process of paying back the money that he stole, he isn’t in the clear yet. The Atlantic City mayor faces sentencing in January and could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of “$250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.”

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