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South Jersey power broker George Norcross, ex-Camden mayor, 4 others charged with racketeering

George Norcross accused of using extortion, coercion to obtain Camden waterfront properties
George Norcross accused of using extortion, coercion to obtain Camden waterfront properties 01:53

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — Democratic power broker George Norcross and his allies have been charged in a years-long racketeering investigation, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced Monday in Trenton.

On Monday, Platkin alongside the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability unsealed a 13-count, 111-paged indictment charging Norcross with leading a criminal enterprise, along with five co-defendants in South Jersey and elsewhere. Platkin added in the afternoon press conference that several other people were involved in the criminal activity but they have not been indicted nor were they identified. 

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

New Jersey Power Broker Charged
New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin, center, discusses racketeering and other charges against influential Democratic power broker George Norcross, sitting in the front row, right, with white hair, Monday, June 17, 2024, in Trenton, N.J. Mike Catalini / AP

Norcross, 68, is the executive chairman of the insurance firm Conner, Strong & Buckelew and serves as the chairman of the board of trustees for Cooper Health. 

The 68-year-old, along with his allies, including his brother Phillip Norcross, former City of Camden Mayor Dana Redd, William Tambussi, Sidney Brown and John O'Donnell, allegedly committed first-degree racketeering conspiracy, among other offenses to further the Norcross enterprise.

All six defendants are also charged with multiple 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 state's indictment alleges the Norcross enterprise secured property and property rights along the Camden Waterfront for itself and others while collecting millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits and controlled and influenced government officials to advance the interests of the enterprise.

"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," Platkin said Monday. "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 described an alleged interaction between George Norcross and a developer when the 68-year-old looked to acquire what would become the Triad1828 Centre.

"When the developer would not initially relinquish his rights on terms preferred by the Norcross enterprise, George Norcross threatened the developer that he would, in substance and in part, 'F you up like you've never been F'd up before.' And he told the victim developer that he would make sure that the developer would never do business in Camden again," Platkin said.  

George Norcross' attorney Michael Critchley said Platkin didn't interview Norcross prior to Monday's press conference. 

"He didn't have the decency to want to conduct this investigation, to seek to interview Mr. Norcross or allow him to come before the Grand Jury. It's a one-sided investigation with a pre-determined result," Critchley said. 

The indictment has evidence from early as 2012 through 2024 and alleges the Norcross enterprise used its power over government officials to create and craft legislation that would serve their personal mission's interests. The indictment also alleges Redd and other officials used parts of Camden's city government to help the enterprise obtain property and property rights for itself and others by way of coercion and extortion. 

Redd's attorney, Henry Klingeman, said the former Camden mayor was surprised by Monday's legal action: 

"She's done nothing wrong. What she has done is serve the Camden community in public and not-for-profit roles for more than three decades. She has cooperated fully with the grand jury investigation for over a year and is unaware of evidence of wrongdoing by her or others. She looks forward to fighting these false allegations in the courtroom before a judge and jury, so she can reclaim her good name that has now been tarnished by the Attorney General's unjust and unjustified action."

Kevin Marino, the attorney representing Phillip Norcross, said they're looking forward to the trial.

"I don't think a thing that Mr. Platkin said was fair. I know for a fact none of it is supported by the evidence, with which I am extremely familiar, and we really do look forward to a trial as quickly as humanly possible."

The defendants' arraignment is scheduled for July 9 at 10 a.m. in Mercer County.

NJ Attorney General's Office unseals 111-paged indictment targeting South Jersey power broker, more 30:28

Who is George Norcross?

George Norcross serves as the executive chairman of the insurance firm Conner, Strong & Buckelew, which has multiple locations but is headquartered in Camden, New Jersey. Norcross is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Cooper Health. 

Who is Phillip Norcross?

Phillip Norcross is an attorney, managing shareholder, and CEO of the New Jersey law firm Parker McCay. Norcross, 61, is the registered agent of the groups that own the buildings in Camden centered in this investigation. He also serves on the board of Cooper Health.

Who is Dana Redd?

Dana Redd was the mayor of Camden from 2010 to 2018 when the state alleges she abused her power to benefit the Norcross enterprise and herself. Redd, 56, is the current CEO of Camden Community Partnership and previously served as a Camden City councilmember and the New Jersey Senate.

Who is William Tambussi?

William Tambussi is an attorney and partner at Brown and Connery law firm in Camden County. Tambussi, 66, is George Norcross' attorney. He serves as counsel to the Camden County Democratic Committee, chaired by Norcross from 1989 to 1995. He additionally served as outside council for Camden, the Camden Redevelopment Agency, Cooper Health and Conner Strong.

Rutgers AAUP-AFT demands for William Tambussi to be removed from university's Board of Governors 01:28

Following the indictment, Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents more than 6,000 full-time faculty members and graduate workers, reiterated its demand to remove Tambussi from the Rutgers University Board of Governors. 

"It just kind of accelerates and deepens our desire to get this individual off the Rutgers Board of Governors," Todd Wolfson, the union's president, said. "To keep him on the board is just spitting in the face of all of us."

Wolfson said the union filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking to remove Tambussi, claiming he doesn't meet the residency requirement of his position.

He said the union plans to bring up its demands once again at a Board of Governors meeting Thursday.

CBS News Philadelphia reached out to Tambussi's attorney and Tambussi via email but is awaiting a response.

Who is Sidney Brown?

Sixty-seven-year-old Sidney Brown is the CEO of NFI, a trucking and logistics company, a board member of Cooper Health, and a partner in the groups that own the Camden buildings centered in the investigation. 

Who is John O'Donnell?

John O'Donnell works on the executive leadership team of The Michaels Organization, a residential development company. O'Donnell, 61, is a partner in the groups that own the Camden buildings involved in the allegations. He's also been a board member of the Camden Community Partnership multiple times since 2018. 

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