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Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Resigns After Pleading Guilty To Federal Wire Fraud Charges

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) -- Atlantic City will get a new leader Friday after Mayor Frank Gilliam resigned in shame. Gilliam stepped down as mayor of Atlantic City after pleading guilty to wire fraud on Thursday.

This comes after the New Jersey attorney general filed papers in state court to remove Gilliam from office.

Gilliam admitted to stealing over $87,000 in donations from a youth nonprofit basketball club he formed and using it for personal expenses.

The money should have benefited underprivileged children. Instead, Gilliam bought himself expensive clothes, meals and vacations.

State law requires public officials who commit crimes involving dishonesty to leave office.

"It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as the Mayor of the City of Atlantic City, effective immediately," Gilliam said in a letter obtained by CBS3 through a source. "I would like to apologize to the residents of the great City of Atlantic City who deserve stability and respect. My sincere apologies to each constituent that voted for me and had high hopes in my tenure."

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also called for Gilliam to resign earlier in the day.

"The charge to which Mayor Gilliam pleaded guilty today is, in a word, despicable. He has squandered the trust and confidence of his community and of this administration to lead that community. He must resign," Murphy said.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito says Gilliam solicited donations, while serving as an Atlantic City councilman and then mayor, for the AC Starz Basketball Club under the false pretense that contributions were for the team or school supplies for underprivileged children.

Atlantic City Council President Marty Small will be sworn in as mayor on Friday at noon.

"As of this conversation, I'm the City Council president and I'm proceeding along as the City Council president, but if an opportunity becomes available where I have to serve the citizens of Atlantic City as mayor, I'll do the absolute best job as I can and I'm more than ready to take up the challenge," Small said.

Federal authorities raided the mayor's home in December, seizing over $41,000. Federal authorities also removed cardboard boxes and computer equipment from the home.

Gilliam's bail was set at $100,000 unsecured bond. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2020.

CBS3's Cleve Bryan and Ukee Washington contributed to this report.

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