A year after a mysterious FBI raid on his home, Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam appeared before a federal judge in Camden Thursday and pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Gilliam, 49, defrauded a basketball club of more than $87,000, prosecutors said, spending that money on luxury designer clothing, expensive meals, and personal trips to various locations. More than $41,000 was recovered when his house was raided in December 2018.
Dressed in a dark suit, Gilliam told U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez that he founded AC Starz Basketball Club, a non-profit that he incorporated to operate a youth basketball team, and opened a bank account for the club in March 2011. From 2013 to 2018, he admitted soliciting $87,215 in donations on behalf of the club and using them for his personal expenses.
Gilliam, who was released on $100,000 unsecured bond, could face 20 years in prison when he is sentenced on Jan. 7. He also agreed to make restitution.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell said more than 10 people were defrauded by Gilliam.
According to federal prosecutors, Gilliam was a member of the board of trustees of the basketball club, which was funded through fees paid by the families of youth basketball players and donations from contributors. But they said he used the club funds primarily to pay for personal expenses unrelated to the team, including designer clothing and pricey restaurants.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said. “Instead, he spent the money on himself.”
Gilliam said very little during the court hearing, except acknowledging he committed wire fraud. He also declined to comment as he awaited the hearing before Judge Rodriguez. The mayor’s wife, Shawna, sat in court in the row behind him.