George NORCROSS and CO-DEFENDANTS PLEAD NOT GUILTY to Racketeering in Camden Property Scandal

Image by: The New York Times

TRENTON, N.J. – George Norcross, a New Jersey Democratic power broker, pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges in his first court appearance since being indicted last month.

Norcross and five others were indicted last month for allegedly managing property sales on the Camden waterfront to earn millions of dollars in tax credits. Former Camden Mayor Dana Redd was among those charged. His five co-defendants have all pleaded not guilty.

Norcross’s attorney, Michael Critchley, told the judge and reporters following the 40-minute arraignment at the Mercer County Criminal Courthouse that his client denies any wrongdoing.

“The indictment has a lot of words, a lot of pages, a lot of allegations,” observed Critchley; “but one thing it does not have, it does not have elements of a crime.”

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Prosecutors claim Norcross and his co-defendants, including his brother Phillip Norcross, committed first-degree racketeering conspiracy, among other crimes, to advance the Norcross enterprise.

Norcross, 68, is the executive chairman of the insurance company Conner, Strong & Buckelew. He is also the Chairman of Cooper Health’s Board of Trustees.

According to the indictment, the Norcross company allegedly acquired property and property rights on the waterfront for itself and others. The indictment also claims they received millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits while controlling and influencing government officials to advance their interests.

Prosecutors revealed in court on Tuesday that their case includes more than 13,000 pages of evidence, as well as 2.5 million documents and audio files. The majority of Tuesday’s session centered on the parties agreeing to an interim protective order so that the defense could begin evaluating the material.

“It’s a vital right to moving the case forward, and they need to get this stuff,” Judge Peter Warshaw said. “The defense requires its discovery. “The defense must get to work.”

Last month, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin claimed Norcross threatened a developer who was trying to buy what would become the Triad1828 Centre.

“When the developer would not initially relinquish his rights on terms preferred by the Norcross enterprise,” Platkin stated at a news conference, “George Norcross threatened the developer that he would, in substance and, in part, ‘F you up like you’ve never been F’d up before.'”

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Platkin added: Norcross allegedly promised the developer that they would never “do business in Camden again.”

The indictment includes evidence from early 2012 until 2024, alleging that the Norcross business exploited its authority over government officials to originate and write legislation to further its mission’s goals.

Norcross’s attorney described the arraignment as the first step in their quest for justice, and he intends to file a motion to dismiss the indictment as per CBSNEWS.

“They’re talking about recorded conversations that took place eight years ago,” Critchley told me. “Eight years ago when it was being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia and if it’s a crime now, it would have been a crime then.”

Due to the ongoing investigation, the state declined to comment upon the arraignment.

Norcross is due back in September.

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