Frank Gilliam, 49, used the money on fancy clothes, expensive meals, and trips that were “completely unrelated to the operation of a youth basketball team,” Acting U.S. Attorney Rachel A. Honig said.
“I stand before this court a fractured human being,” Gilliam told U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez via videoconference in Camden. “I want this court to know that the mistake I made is not something I’m proud of.
“I hurt people who loved me, people who depended on me,” he added. “I knew better.”
Gilliam, a Democrat, was elected Atlantic City's first African-American mayor in 2017.
Honig, the U.S. attorney, said Gilliam co-founded the non-profit AC Starz Basketball Club, then solicited donations “under the false pretense that the contributions were for a youth basketball team and/or school supplies for underprivileged children basketball team” while he was a council member and then mayor.
Prosecutor's from Honig's office had sought a term of 15 months to 21 months after Gilliam agreed to take a plea.
Defense attorneys and others sought flat probation based on Gilliam’s remorse, his cooperation with federal prosecutors and a tragic history involving the murder of his mother by his father when he was 3 years old. He's also the primary caregiver for his 4-year-old grandson, they said.
Gilliam must repay the balance of $86,790 in restitution as part of his guilty plea to wire fraud.
That amounts to $20,545 after deducting $53,790 that the FBI seized from his home during a raid and $12,455 that he’s repaid so far, federal authorities said.
Rodriguez also ordered Gilliam to remain on supervised release for three years.
“When an idol falls the ripple effects are disappointing to many,” the judge said during Thursday’s virtual hearing.
Gilliam "stole more money than many U.S. residents earn in a year,” Rodriguez added. “The defendant also took money from the very underprivileged children in Atlantic City that he tried to encourage and prepare for a better life.”
Honig credited special agents of the FBI Atlantic City Resident Agency and FBI Atlantic City Public Corruption Task Force, which includes the Atlantic County and Cape May County prosecutor’s offices and the Atlantic City Police Department, as well as special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, with the investigation.
Securing the plea and sentencing was Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell of Honig’s Special Prosecutions Division.
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