New Jersey AG Charges Dem Powerbroker George Norcross III, Allies In Massive Corruption Scandal

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Font Size:

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin has charged George E. Norcross III, a politically powerful south Jersey insurance executive, with sprawling racketeering charges, Platkin announced in a Monday press conference.

Norcross, the chairman of insurance firm Conner Strong & Buckelew, was the keystone in a sprawling enterprise to “manipulate government programs and processes designed to attract development and investment to instead suit their own financial desires,” Platkin announced Monday.

“Instead of contributing to the successes of the city of Camden, through a series of criminal acts alleged in the state’s case, the Norcross enterprise took the Camden waterfront all for themselves. As George Norcross himself allegedly said ‘this is for our friends,'” Platkin announced. (RELATED: Democrats Changed Campaign Finance Laws Ahead Of Contentious Election In This State, It Ultimately Benefited Them)

The Attorney General accused Norcross of using his power and influence over government officials, including former Camden Mayor Dana Redd, who Platkin also charged with racketeering, to achieve highly favorable deals and squeeze rival developers out of properties, Platkin alleged.

One focus of the indictment was the L3 commercial real estate property, which Norcross allegedly pressured a nonprofit to sell to a developer associated with him for a fraction of what they could have gotten for it.

“The Camden Mayor’s office directed the nonprofit’s leaders to meet regularly with Phillip Norcross and then to update the Norcross enterprise of its progress in the deal,” Platkin alleged.

“At the direction of city government officials the nonprofit’s leaders met regularly with Phillip Norcross and were pressured to follow the directions of the Norcross enterprise or else face repercussions,” Platkin continued.

The nonprofit ultimately sold it to the Norcross-associated developer for a $125,000 net profit while Platkin claims they could have sold it for millions.

Norcross’ handpicked developers were “able to obtain the L3 complex at a discounted price only available to the nonprofit,” according to Slatkin.

Subsequently Cooper Health, where Norcross served as chairman of the board, gained ownership interest in the building and collected over $27 million in state tax credits from 2016 to 2022, “thanks to legislation that the Norcross enterprise helped craft,” Slatkin alleged.

“We re-wrote a tax credit law in New Jersey that says, in essence, if you come to Camden we’re going to give you 100 percent tax credit for all capital and related cost. It will cause real havoc. It’s unlimited,” Norcross wrote about the tax code, according to Slatkin.

Slatkin detailed another incident in which Norcross threatened a developer and forced him to relinquish property rights so Norcross could build the tallest building on Camden’s waterfront.

“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 substantive part ‘F you up like you’ve never been F’d up before,'” Slatkin alleged.

“And he told the victim developer that he would make sure he would never do business in Camden again,” Slatkin continued.

“In a later recorded phone call, George Norcross admitted to threatening the developer and recalled the conversation with the victim developer asking Norcross ‘Are you threatening me?’ to which George Norcross replied ‘absolutely,” Slatkin claimed.

Norcross, who served on the Democratic National Committee, was “the most powerful unelected political official in New Jersey,” according to the New York Times.

New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy had previously criticized Norcross for his exploitation of the state’s tax incentive program, though that criticism seemed to stop in 2021 around the same time that the Camden County Democratic Committee, a group controlled by Norcross, endorsed Murphy’s wife for Senate, the New York Times reported.

Besides Norcross and Redd, Slatkin charged four other individuals in the racketeering case. Norcross’ brother Phillip, his personal lawyer William Tambussi, and business leaders Sidney Brown and John O’Donnell also received charges, according to Slatkin.