Powerful New Jersey political power broker George Norcross charged with racketeering

New Jersey’s attorney general has charged influential Democratic power broker George Norcross with racketeering and other charges in connection with government issued tax credits, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.

Norcross, a former Democratic National Committee member and one-time head of the Camden County Democratic Party, has been an influential figure in state politics. The indictment alleges that Norcross and others got property rights along the Camden waterfront and collected millions of dollars in state-backed tax credits.

At a news conference in Trenton, New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin accused Norcross of leading a criminal enterprise, obtaining millions in tax credits and property rights along the Delaware River waterfront in Camden.

Platkin said Norcross told a developer that he had to relinquish his property rights or he would retaliate and make it impossible for the developer to do business in Camden if he refused.

Members of the alleged conspiracy also got a government development agency to help them get leverage in private negotiations, Platkin said.

Norcross sat in the front row during the news conference, steadily watching the attorney general as he detailed the criminal counts against him. Asked what he made of Norcross’ presence in the room Monday, Platkin said he had no comment.

Michael Critchley, Norcross’ attorney, stood to try to ask the attorney general a question, but Platkin left before Critchley could ask anything. The Associated Press left a message seeking comment from Critchley.

The indictment alleges that Norcoss and his associates “used their political influence to tailor New Jersey economic development legislation to their preferences. After the legislation was enacted in September 2013, members and associates of the Norcross Enterprise conspired to, and did, extort and coerce others to obtain — for certain individuals and business entities — properties and property rights on the Camden, New Jersey waterfront and associated tax incentive credits.”

“As the state alleges, the Norcross enterprise manipulated government programs, processes designed to attract development and investment to instead suit their own financial desires. 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 Camden Waterfront all for themselves,” said the Attorney General. “From at least as early as 2012 to the present, the state alleges that the Norcross enterprise used its power and influence over government officials to craft legislation tailored to serve the interest of the norcross enterprise and with the cooperation of former Mayor of Camden, Dana Redd they coop-ed the Camden city government and aide the Norcross enterprise in property rights all the Camden Waterfront through coersion, extortion and other criminal acts.”

The following statement was sent to FOX 29 Monday on behalf of Dana Redd:

“Dana Redd was surprised by today’s legal action. She’s done nothing wrong. What she has done is serve the Camden community in public and not-for-profit roles for more than three decades. She has cooperated fully with the grand jury investigation for over a year and is unaware of evidence of wrongdoing by her or others. She looks forward to fighting these false allegations in the courtroom before a judge and jury, so she can reclaim her good name that has now been tarnished by the Attorney General’s unjust and unjustified action.”

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