The mayor of Atlantic City made headlines last month when he was involved in a fight outside a casino that was captured on video. The mayor, Frank Gilliam, was not charged. But Mr. Gilliam may be facing more serious trouble. Yesterday, federal officials raided his home, removing computer equipment and boxes in an operation that represents another setback for this struggling seaside city.
“The F.B.I. was at the mayor’s home in Atlantic City in an official capacity executing a search warrant,” said Doreen Holder, a spokeswoman for the F.B.I.’s office in Newark. Ms. Holder said the I.R.S. was also involved in the search, but she declined to offer any other details.
Video posted on social media showed about a dozen agents going in and out of the home on Ohio Avenue.
The mayor’s office declined to comment about what prompted the raid. “We can tell you that the mayor’s office is open, and we are here to provide services to Atlantic City residents and to serve the administration in any way that we can,” said Christina Bevilacqua, the deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office.
Shortly after 12:30 p.m. Monday, Mr. Gilliam emerged from his house and left in a Mercedes-Benz S.U.V. He did not respond to shouted questions from reporters gathered at the end of his driveway.
The F.B.I. operation is the latest chapter in what has been a tumultuous couple of months for Mr. Gilliam, a Democrat. The late-night brawl he was involved in took place outside the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City; surveillance video obtained from the casino showed the mayor swinging wildly at an unknown man. Casino security intervened to break up the fight.
The cause of the melee has never been made clear. Prosecutors said they would not pursue criminal charges against Mr. Gilliam.
Mr. Gilliam has also faced complaints about his campaign finances. The mayor and the Atlantic City Democratic Committee quarreled over a $10,000 check that had been made out to the committee, but that Mr. Gilliam deposited into his campaign account. The committee filed a criminal complaint in March, but a judge later dismissed the case.
Mr. Gilliam was elected in 2017, defeating the incumbent mayor Don Guardian, a Republican who had clashed frequently with the administration of former Gov. Chris Christie over the state’s decision to take over Atlantic City’s finances. The city was on the brink of bankruptcy as its casino industry struggled.
Mr. Gilliam, a native of Atlantic City who had served as a city councilman since 2009, campaigned on a “new era” message, saying that Atlantic City’s struggles were the result of poor management of city government and the casinos. He faulted Mr. Guardian for allowing the state takeover and said the largely Democratic city needed to return to its Democratic roots.
He promised to court developers and bring in businesses. Since taking office, two casinos have opened where old ones had shuttered. But he also promised to broaden Atlantic City’s appeal, seeking to establish the resort city as a family-friendly destination. “We’ve lost our identity because of gaming,” Mr. Gilliam said during the campaign. “If everyone got to the table, Atlantic City would find its way.”
The F.B.I. raid on Mr. Gilliam’s home, however, is a reminder of the long history of criminal behavior among some of Atlantic City’s top public officials.
Robert W. Levy, who was elected mayor in 2006, disappeared in 2007 amid rumors of a pending federal investigation into his military record and benefits. He was found to have checked into an addiction and rehabilitation facility in central New Jersey, and later admitted in court to falsifying his military records to receive veterans benefits.
In 1991, James L. Usry, who had been mayor for six years and was Atlantic City’s first elected African-American mayor, pleaded guilty to campaign contribution violations after prosecutors accused of him accepting $6,000 in cash and a $500 check in exchange for supporting an ordinance that would have benefited a business owned by the donor. Mr. Usry and four city councilmen were indicted.
And in 1984, Michael J. Matthews, who had been elected mayor in 1982, was charged with extortion, bribery and conspiracy as part of a wide-ranging sting operation against organized crime. Federal authorities said he maintained a close relationship with Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, an infamous organized crime leader, that predated Mr. Matthews’s election as mayor. Mr. Matthews pleaded guilty to a single count of extortion.
Atlantic City also played a central role in the Abscam scandal, which resulted in the convictions of several members of Congress on charges of bribery and political corruption, including Senator Harrison A. Williams of New Jersey.
At the center of the scandal were promises for casino partnerships and revenue in Atlantic City.
“I’ll give you Atlantic City — without me, you do nothing,” Angelo J. Errichetti, who was then mayor of Camden, N.J., boasted to an undercover agent about arranging a casino license for a $50,000 kickback.
Thanks to Nick Corasaniti.
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