George Norcross, NJ Democratic power broker, charged with fraud

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin (D) on Monday charged Democratic power broker George Norcross and five others with first-degree wire fraud in a 13-count indictment.

On Monday, Norcross — a longtime kingmaker in the world of New Jersey Democratic politics — took a front row seat at a news conference in Trenton, NJ, announcing Platkin’s allegations. As some eagle-eyed social media users noted, Norcross, who was wearing a suit, was wearing shoes without socks.

“The state alleges that George Norcross operated a criminal enterprise in the state for at least 12 years,” Platkin said. “This alleged conduct by the Norcross Company has caused great harm to individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, the people of the State of New Jersey and, in particular, the City of Camden and its residents.”

A positive Norcross appeared at Blatkin’s news conference on Monday, listening to the attorney general, condemning the allegations and calling Blatkin, a fellow Democrat, a “coward,” according to The Associated Press.

For more than a year, Platkin and his team have been investigating Norcross over redevelopment projects throughout Camden, one of New Jersey’s poorest towns. According to Platkin’s office, Norcross and five other defendants “acquired property and property rights on the Camden waterfront for himself and others, collected millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits, and controlled and attacked government officials to advance the company’s interests.”

The charges are the latest strike at the powerful grip of New Jersey’s Democratic political machine. Earlier this year, upstart primary challenger Rep. Andy Kim (TNJ) dealt a significant blow to the party’s power after suing to abolish the “county line” — which has been overused by political bosses in the 21 counties for decades. Power to decide who will be elected. Kim won the Democratic primary for the Senate in early June.

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Norcross now lives in Palm Beach, Fla. He was charged along with his brother Philip A. Norcross and former Camden Mayor Dana Redd. Philip Norcross is the CEO of a law firm headquartered in Camden. His other brother, Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross, who represents New Jersey’s 1st District, which includes Camden and other Philadelphia suburbs, was not named in the indictment.

New Jersey Democrats are dealing with the fallout from a corruption investigation into longtime Sen. Bob Menendez, who is accused of taking bribes from gold bars, Mercedes Benz and business executives with ties to the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

The latest Accusation The Norcross Enterprises alleges that it “used its power and influence over government officials to shape legislation in the company’s interests” and that they were able to use it in part, with the cooperation of Redd and other officials. The city’s government must acquire “property and property rights” “by coercion, extortion, and other criminal acts.”

Norcross’ attorney, Michael Critchley, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Norcross has long been a kingmaker in New Jersey politics, perhaps one of the most unelected Democrats in the state. A wealthy insurance executive, Norcross was known in New Jersey for being a generous political campaign donor and for building a powerful group of South Jersey state legislators.

At least $1.1 billion in tax credits going to companies investing capital in Camden went to Norcross’s insurance brokerage, his business partnerships and charitable and law clients, as well as his brother Philip’s lobbying firms. A 2019 investigation by WNYC and ProPublica found.

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A New Jersey indictment against Norcross unsealed Monday is filled with examples of how he used his influence to threaten individuals. In one cited instance, Norcross allegedly threatened a developer in 2016 who wouldn’t give up his rights under Norcross’ terms, telling him he would make sure the developer never did business in Camden again.

“I will lift you up like you have never been before,” Norcross told the developer. When the developer asked Norcross if he was threatening him, Norcross reportedly said: “Of course.”

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