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Former Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam gets 30 days in prison for fraud
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Former Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam gets 30 days in prison for fraud

Frank Gilliam Jr.

Former Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr., seen here April 23, 2019, was sentenced to a month in prison Thursday on a wire fraud charge.

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CAMDEN — Former Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in prison followed by three years’ probation and 200 hours of community service, more than a year after pleading guilty to wire fraud and admitting to taking about $87,000 from a youth sports program.

He also must be on home detention for 11 months following incarceration, when he will be restricted to his residence except for travel for work, education, religious services and medical care. And he must pay $86,790 in restitution to his victims who had donated to the AC Starz basketball program.

He has already started making restitution, said his attorney, Harry H. Rimm.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Rodriguez sentenced Gilliam after a hearing conducted via videoconference. About 20 people spoke as character witnesses, describing how Gilliam has helped, coached and mentored them or their children over the years. They urged the judge not to take Gilliam away from his family and the community by sentencing him to prison time.

More than 200 letters of support for Gilliam were sent to the court, the judge said.

Rodriguez started the hearing saying that, based on offense level and criminal history scores, the recommended sentencing range was 15 to 21 months. After hearing from character witnesses and the U.S. attorney, he said he would lower Gilliam’s scores to a recommended sentence of 8 to 14 months, but then sentenced Gilliam to far less.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell objected to the reduced sentence. The government had been seeking the original recommendation of 15 to 21 months.

Rimm had requested no jail time and a sentence of just probation and 500 hours of community service, with no fine. He said he based his request on Gilliam’s remorse, attempts to repay some of the money even before it was required, history of community service, unique family needs and background of trauma.

Gilliam’s father murdered his mother when Gilliam was 3 years old, and he was raised by his grandmother and aunt in Atlantic City.

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From time to time, Gilliam appeared to tear up and lean out of the picture to wipe his eyes, especially when his wife, Shawna, and brother Daniel talked about how he was the rock that kept the family together.

“Your Honor, I stand before this court as a fractured human being,” Gilliam said during his time to speak. He apologized to the court, his family and friends and community, and asked to be allowed to stay at home so he could help his family members.

His wife said Gilliam is the one to wake up their three children and grandchild who live with them, and puts them to bed. He takes them to school and to sports practices, and takes care of his brother who recently had a heart attack.

“Today we are here from results of his trauma,” Shawna said. “I know the person Frank is. I can’t wrap my mind around everything that has happened. At the end of the day, I keep going back to the trauma.”

Rimm stressed after the sentencing that the charge to which Gilliam pleaded guilty relates only to his conduct as a private citizen, not conduct in his official capacity.

“He was not charged with taking any public or taxpayer funds,” Rimm said in a statement, adding Gilliam would not comment on the sentence.

Gilliam resigned as mayor in October 2019 after pleading guilty to wire fraud and admitting in federal court to stealing more than $87,000 between 2013 and 2018 from AC Starz, a nonprofit he created in 2011. He was succeeded by former City Council President Marty Small Sr.

“I’ve made it a habit not to comment on other people’s legal situation,” Small said Thursday before the hearing. Small ran against Gilliam in the Democratic primary in 2017 and won at the polls, but lost after vote-by-mail ballots were counted. “I just wish Frank Gilliam and his family Godspeed.”

Gilliam’s sentencing had been rescheduled six times since his only court appearance in 2019.

About 124 people attended Thursday’s Zoom hearing.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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