New Jersey Democratic kingmaker George Norcross indicted on racketeering charges

New Jersey businessman and co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, George Norcross walks to Judge Patricia McInerney’s courtroom at City Hall in Philadelphia.

 Matt Rourke | AP

George Norcross, who for decades had been a Democratic political kingmaker in New Jersey, was charged with racketeering in an indictment unsealed Monday.

Norcross’s brother, Phillip Norcross, and four other defendants also were charged in the 13-count indictment, which was filed by New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin.

George Norcross, a former member of the Democratic National Committee who now resides in Florida, was in attendance at a press conference Platkin gave on the charges Monday.

The indictment says that “members and associates of the Norcross Enterprise, including George Norcross III 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.”

“The entities that benefitted, including Cooper Health and [the insurance firm Conner Strong & Buckelew CSB] then occupied the properties they obtained interests in and sold the tax credits they obtained for millions of dollars,” the indictment said.

Norcross was chair of the board of trustees of Cooper University Health Care and chair of Conner Strong & Buckelew.

The indictment says that Norcross’ criminal conduct included threatening a developer who had held the waterfront property rights necessary for the Norcross enterprise to build the tallest building on the Camden waterfront.

“When the developer would not relinquish his rights on terms preferred by George E. Norcross III, he threatened the developer that he would, in substance and in part, “f**k you up like you’ve never been f**ked up before and told the developer he would make sure the developer never did business in Camden again,” the indictment said.

“In a recorded phone call, [Norcross] later admitted to threatening the developer: ‘I said, `this is unacceptable. If you do this, it will have enormous consequences.’ [The developer] said, `Are you threatening me?’ I said, `Absolutely,’ ” according to the indictment.

Another brother, Donald Norcross, is currently a member of the House of Representatives for a district in southern New Jersey. David Norcross is not charged in the case involving his two brothers.

Phillip Norcross is managing shareholder and CEO of the Parker McCay law firm, and also is chairman of the board of the Cooper Foundation.

The other defendants in the case are William Tambussi, Dana Redd, Sidney Brown and John O’Donnell.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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