New Jersey Democratic kingmaker George Norcross indicted on racketeering charges

New Jersey Democratic kingmaker George Norcross indicted on racketeering charges
Politics

Influential Democratic power broker George Norcross, center, speaks outside the justice complex in Trenton, N.J., Monday, June 17, 2024, about being charged with racketeering and other charges in connection with government issued tax credits, saying he wants to go to trial in two weeks and calling New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin a “coward.”

George Norcross, who for decades had been a Democratic political kingmaker in New Jersey, was charged with racketeering in an indictment unsealed Monday.

Norcross’s brother, Phillip Norcross, and four other defendants also were charged in the 13-count, 111-page indictment filed by New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

Platkin accused George Norcross of leading a “criminal enterprise” in South Jersey that used political influence to tailor economic redevelopment along the waterfront of Camden, New Jersey to suit the defendants’ financial interests, extorting and pressuring others to obtain property rights and tax incentive credits linked to the development efforts.

“The entities that benefitted, including Cooper Health and [the insurance firm Conner Strong & Buckelew CSB] then occupied the properties they obtained interests in and sold the tax credits they obtained for millions of dollars,” the indictment said.

George Norcross, a 68-year-old insurance executive and former member of the Democratic National Committee, was chair of the board of trustes of Cooper University Health Care and chair of Conner Strong & Buckelew.

Now a resident of Florida, George Norcross was in attendance at a press conference Platkin gave on the charges Monday in Trenton.

“The indictment unsealed today alleges that George Norcross has been running a criminal enterprise in this state for at least the last twelve years,” said Platkin.

“On full display in this indictment is how a group of unelected, private businessmen used their power and influence to get government to aid their criminal enterprise and further its interests,” the attorney general said. “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.”

“That stops today,” Platkin added.

CNBC has requested comment on the indictment from George Norcross’ lawyer, Michael Critchley.

Read more CNBC politics coverage

The indictment says that Norcross’ criminal conduct included threatening a developer who had held the waterfront property rights necessary for the Norcross enterprise to build the tallest building on the Camden waterfront.

“When the developer would not relinquish his rights on terms preferred by George E. Norcross III, he threatened the developer that he would, in substance and in part, “f**k you up like you’ve never been f**ked up before and told the developer he would make sure the developer never did business in Camden again,” the indictment said.

“In a recorded phone call, [Norcross] later admitted to threatening the developer: ‘I said, `this is unacceptable. If you do this, it will have enormous consequences.’ [The developer] said, `Are you threatening me?’ I said, `Absolutely,’ ” according to the indictment.

Another brother, Donald Norcross, is currently a member of the House of Representatives for a district in southern New Jersey. David Norcross is not charged in the case involving his two brothers.

Phillip Norcross is managing shareholder and CEO of the Parker McCay law firm, and also is chairman of the board of the Cooper Foundation.

New Jersey businessman and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, George Norcross walks away from Judge Patricia McInerney’s courtroom at City Hall in Philadelphia.

Matt Rourke | AP

The other defendants in the case are William Tambussi, Dana Redd, Sidney Brown and John O’Donnell.

Tambussi is George Norcross’ long-time personal attorney, and counsel to the Camden County Democratic Committee.

Redd is a former mayor of Camden, a former state senator and is the current CEO of Camden Community Partnership.

Brown is the CEO of the trucking and logistics company NFI, and is a member of the board of Cooper Health.

O’Donnell is part of the executive leadership of The Michaels Organization, a residential development company.

The six defendants face a potential sentence of between 10-to-20 years years in prison if they are convicted of the top chaerge of first-degree racketeering.

The other charges facing the defendants include various counts of financial facilitation, misconduct by a corporate official, and official misconduct and conspiring to commit theft by extortion, criminal coercion, financial facilitation, misconduct by a corporate official, and official misconduct.

Donald Norcross became a member of the New Jersey state Assembly in January 2010, and held that post for just a week before he was appointed to replace Redd as as a state senator after she took office as mayor of Camden.

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