New Jersey

Atlantic City Swears in Marty Small as Acting Mayor; He Vows to ‘Follow the Law'

Marty Small is now the acting mayor of Atlantic City, a city with a history of corruption

What to Know

  • First-term Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam pleaded guilty to defrauding a youth basketball club of $87,000 in federal court in Camden.
  • Gilliam resigned shortly after making his plea Thursday.
  • Marty Small is now the acting mayor of Atlantic City.

Marty Small began his tenure as acting mayor of Atlantic City by setting a seemingly low bar for himself, yet one that has tripped up many of his predecessors in the ethically challenged city.

"I'm going to follow the law at all times," he declared.

Small was speaking at a ceremonial swearing in-ceremony in City Hall a day after his predecessor, Frank Gilliam Jr., admitted stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball team he had founded. Gilliam resigned hours later.

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And so the mayoral merry-go-round spun yet again in this seaside gambling resort whose long, rich history of corruption was chronicled in the hit HBO series "Boardwalk Empire."

Small, 45, said he would not talk about Gilliam other than to ask residents to pray for the former mayor and his family. Gilliam could get 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 7.

Gilliam, 49, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Camden to stealing money that was purportedly for the basketball team and for school supplies for poor children. But prosecutors say he used it on himself — for trips, fancy clothes and other personal expenses.

Gilliam apologized to residents in a letter Thursday afternoon.

"It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as the Mayor of the City of Atlantic City, effective immediately," Gilliam wrote in a letter filed with the city clerk. "My sincere apologies to each constituent that voted for me and had high hopes in my tenure."

He then posted a brief message to Facebook Friday morning: "Good morning I want to thank you all for the opportunity to serve as your Mayor. I apologize for letting you down. God Bless!"

Yet his lawyer issued a statement trying to lessen the perceived severity of the crime, noting that Gilliam stole private money, not public funds.

Gilliam stepped down shortly after New Jersey's attorney general filed court papers seeking his ouster under New Jersey's Forfeiture of Public Office law.

Small has run several times for mayor and lost a primary to Gilliam in 2017.

Small himself has been charged twice — and acquitted twice — of election-related fraud in cases he maintains were politically motivated.

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