The Democrat mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey, resigned Thursday after he admitted to stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball team he founded.
Frank Gilliam Jr. told the judge he used the funds he received for his own personal expenses between 2013 and 2018. Reports said he received donations to the Atlantic City Starz team from donors in Atlantic City and Philadelphia.
The money, which was originally meant to go towards the non-profit basketball club and to buy school supplies for underprivileged children, was instead spent by Gilliam on expensive clothes, meals, and vacations, according to CBS Philly.
“It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as the Mayor of the City of Atlantic City, effective immediately,” Gilliam wrote in a letter obtained by the news outlet. “I would like to apologize to the residents of the great City of Atlantic City who deserve stability and respect. My sincere apologies to each constituent that voted for me and had high hopes in my tenure.”
Reports said that City Council President Marty Small was expected to take Gilliam’s place as acting mayor on Friday.
“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, adding that “Instead, he spent the money on himself.”
Reports said that as of 2007, four of Atlantic City’s last eight mayors have been arrested on charges of corruption and that “one-third of the nine-member City Council was either in prison or under house arrest,” according to Fox News.
Prior to Gilliam’s announcement, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called for his resignation.
“The charge to which Mayor Gilliam pleaded guilty today is, in a word, despicable. He has squandered the trust and confidence of his community and of this administration to lead that community. He must resign,” Murphy stated.
Gilliam faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted. His trial is set to take place on January 7.