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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

New Jersey Democrat political boss charged with racketeering conspiracy

Garden State power broker George Norcross corruptly acquired millions in tax credits through coercion and extortion tied to the development of Camden waterfront real estate, according to his indictment.

TRENTON, N.J. (CN) — New Jersey’s attorney general charged influential Democratic power broker George Norcross with racketeering in connection with government-issued tax credits in a 13-count indictment unsealed Monday.

At a press conference announcing the criminal indictment on Monday afternoon, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin said Norcross, a 68-year-old businessman, used his deep ties and influence in New Jersey politics to manipulate legislation tailored to serve his and his allies' interests.

"The alleged conduct of the Norcross Enterprise has caused great harm to individuals, businesses, non-profits, the people of the State of New Jersey, and especially the City of Camden and its residents,” Platkin said. “That stops today. We must never accept politics and government — that is funded with tax dollars — to be weaponized against the people it serves."

"Today we reaffirm that no one in our state is above the law — period," he said.

In the indictment Platkin describes Norcross as playing a role, since as early as 2012, in manipulating tax credits for waterfront revitalization projects in Camden along the Delaware River in South New Jersey, overlooking the Philadelphia skyline.

Norcross, widely considered to be one of the most powerful unelected people in the state, sat alone in a reserved seat in the front row of the hall in Trenton where Platkin announced the 111-page indictment.

George Norcross, widely considered to be one of the most powerful unelected people in New Jersey, sat alone in a reserved seat in the front row of the hall in Trenton, where Attorney General Matt Platkin announced the 111-page indictment. (Courthouse News via New Jersey Attorney General)

Platkin said Norcross described the scheme in his own words on a recorded call.

“We rewrote a tax credit law in New Jersey that says, in essence, if you come to Camden, we’re going to give you 100% tax credit for all capital and related costs. It will cause real havoc, it’s unlimited,” Norcross said according to the charging papers.

The indictment, filed in New Jersey state criminal court, also charges former Camden Mayor Dana Redd, lawyer William Tambussi and Norcross's brother, Philip Norcross.

The group is accused of unlawfully obtaining property and property rights on the waterfront in Camden; collecting millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits; and controlling and influencing government officials.

“From approximately 2012 to 2013, members and associates of the Norcross Enterprise, including George E. Norcross III, used their political influence to tailor New Jersey economic development legislation to their preferences,” the indictment says.

“After the legislation was enacted in September 2013, members and associates of the Norcross Enterprise conspired to, and did, extort and coerce others to obtain — for certain individuals and business entities — properties and property rights on the Camden, New Jersey waterfront and associated tax incentive credits.”

According to the indictment, Norcross threatened a developer who would not relinquish his rights to waterfront property in Camden near his high-rise project, called the Triad1828 Centre, telling him he would "f**k you up like you've never been f**ked up before" and warning that he'd ensure the developer never did business in Camden again.

Representatives for the New Jersey attorney general’s office said the case was part of an “ongoing investigation.”

At a press conference outside of the attorney general's headquarters in Trenton on Monday, Norcross was defiant against the charges, telling reporters he wants to take the case to trial in two weeks and Platkin a “coward.”

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Categories / Criminal, Politics

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