Norcross indictment

South Jersey Power Broker Norcross Charged with Racketeering

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) yesterday filed criminal charges against six defendants following a years-long investigation into a criminal enterprise run by South Jersey Democratic power broker George E. Norcross III and his associates. The 13-count indictment alleges that through a series of unlawful acts, the Norcross Enterprise obtained property and property rights on the Camden Waterfront for itself and others, collected millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits, and controlled and influenced government officials to further the interests of the enterprise.

The indictment available here alleges that from as early as 2012 through the present, the Norcross Enterprise used its power and influence over government officials to craft legislation tailored to serve the interests of the enterprise, and with the cooperation of then-Camden Mayor Dana Redd and other officials, used parts of the city’s government to aid the enterprise in acquiring property and property rights for itself and others through coercion, extortion, and other criminal acts.

Norcross, who was present at yesterday’s news conference by Attorney General Platkin, denounced the charges, saying afterwards, “I want Matt Platkin to come down here and try this case himself, because he’s a coward, because he has forced people in this building to implement his will.

“I want to witness an extraordinary embarrassment and outrageous conduct from a government official who stands up there and tries to act like he’s holier than thou,” Norcross said.

All six of the following defendants are charged with first-degree racketeering:

  • George E. Norcross, III, 68, of Palm Beach, Florida, is executive chairman of the insurance firm Conner, Strong & Buckelew and chairman of the board of trustees for Cooper Health.
  • Philip A. Norcross, 61, of Philadelphia, is an attorney and the managing shareholder and CEO of Parker McCay, a New Jersey law firm. Philip Norcross also serves on the board of Cooper Health and is the registered agent for the groups that own buildings in Camden that are the subject of the criminal allegations.
  • William M. Tambussi, 66, of Brigantine, is an attorney and partner at the law firm of Brown and Connery. He is the long-time personal attorney to George Norcross. From 1989 to present he also served as counsel to the Camden County Democratic Committee – which George Norcross chaired from 1989 to 1995. Tambussi has also served as outside counsel to the City of Camden, the Camden Redevelopment Agency, Cooper Health, and Conner Strong.
  • Dana L. Redd, 56, of Sicklerville, is currently the CEO of Camden Community Partnership, which was formerly Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. She previously served as a member of the Camden City Council, the New Jersey Senate, and from 2010 to 2018 was the Mayor of Camden, and she is alleged to have abused that position to benefit herself and the Norcross Enterprise.
  • Sidney R. Brown, 67, of Philadelphia, is the CEO of NFI, a trucking and logistics company. He also serves as a member of the board at Cooper Health, and is a partner in the groups that own several of the Camden buildings at the center of the allegations.
  • John J. O’Donnell, 61, of Newtown, Pennsylvania, has been in the executive leadership of The Michaels Organization, a residential development company, in a variety of roles including COO, President, and CEO. He is also a partner in the groups that own several of the Camden buildings at the center of the allegations. He has also served on the Board of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership at various times since 2018.

The defendants are also charged with 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.

“The indictment … alleges that George Norcross has been running a criminal enterprise in this state for at least the last 12 years,” said Attorney General Platkin in announcing the charges earlier today. “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 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. 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.”

All of the offenses charged in the 111-page indictment are violations of the first and second degrees. First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. The crime of first-degree racketeering is subject to the No Early Release Act, and thus carries a mandatory 85% parole disqualifier. It also exposes criminal defendants to the potential for additional financial penalties – including the forfeiture of ill-gotten proceeds from their criminal activity – which, as the indictment makes clear, the state intends to seek in this case. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of 5 to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The offense of official misconduct carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years for public officials convicted of that offense related to their office.

The charges and allegations are only accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

The arraignment for the defendants is scheduled for July 9 at 10 a.m., before Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw Jr. in Mercer County.

Defense counsel:

  • George E. Norcross, III, is represented by Michael Critchley, Esq
  • Philip A. Norcross is represented by Kevin Marino, Esq
  • William M. Tambussi is represented by Thomas Gosse, Esq.
  • Dana L. Redd is represented by Henry Klingeman, Esq.
  • Sidney R. Brown : no defense counsel listed.
  • John J. O’Donnell: no defense counsel listed.

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