ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CN) – The mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey, resigned Thursday after pleading guilty to wire fraud for stealing donations he collected for a youth basketball team.
“It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as the mayor of the city of Atlantic City, effective immediately,” Frank Gilliam wrote in his resignation letter. “I would like to apologize to the residents of the great city of Atlantic City who deserve stability and respect.”
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had just filed a petition in New Jersey Superior Court to have Gilliam removed from office following Gilliam’s guilty plea to one count of wire fraud earlier Thursday.
Gilliam was on the board of trustees of the AC Starz youth basketball team, the petition says, a nonprofit funded by parent fees and donations. Gilliam raised over $87,000 in donations to the Starz, at least some of which he spent on designer clothing, expensive meals, and personal trips, the petition says.
“The state demands judgment against defendant declaring that because of his federal conviction he has forfeited any public position he holds, including his current position as mayor of Atlantic City, that he may no longer exercise the powers and privileges of that position, and that he may no longer receive any compensation or payment of any kind in connection with that position,” Grewal wrote.
Gilliam agreed to pay full restitution as part of his guilty plea, the petition says. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy had also called on Gilliam to resign.
According to New Jersey media sources, City Council president Marty Small will be sworn in as mayor Friday at noon.
No one answered a call placed to the Atlantic City mayor’s office after business hours Thursday. A message to Grewal’s office after business hours also was not immediately returned.