George Norcross, former mayor of Camden and four other South Jersey residents charged with organized crime

TRENTON, NJ (CBS) — Democratic power broker George Norcross and his allies have been charged with organized crime as part of a years-long investigation, New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced Monday in Trenton.

On Monday, Platkin, along with the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability, released a 111-page, 13-count indictment accusing Norcross and five other defendants in South Jersey and elsewhere of running a criminal organization. Platkin added in the afternoon press conference that several other people were involved in the criminal activity, but that no charges have been filed against them and their identities have not been released.

“The indictment unsealed today alleges that George Norcross has operated a criminal organization in this state for at least 12 years,” Platkin said.

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin (center) discusses organized crime and other charges against influential Democratic power broker George Norcross, who sits in the front row at right and has white hair, Monday, June 17, 2024, in Trenton, NJ

Mike Catalini/AP

Norcross, 68, is executive chairman of insurance firm Conner, Strong & Buckelew and serves as chairman of the board of trustees of Cooper Health.

The 68-year-old, along with his allies, including his brother Phillip Norcross, former Camden Mayor Dana Redd, William Tambussi, Sidney Brown and John O'Donnell, are said to have committed, among other offenses, first-degree organized crime conspiracy to advance the Norcross company.

All six defendants also face multiple counts of financial facilitation, misconduct of a corporate official and abuse of office, as well as conspiracy to commit theft by extortion, criminal coercion, financial facilitation, misconduct of a corporate official and abuse of office.

The state's indictment alleges that the Norcross company secured property and ownership rights along the Camden waterfront for itself and others, while also collecting millions of dollars in state tax breaks and controlling and influencing government officials to advance the company's interests.

“This indictment lays bare how a group of unelected, private businessmen abused their power and influence to get the government to support their criminal enterprise and advance its interests,” Platkin said Monday. “The alleged conduct of the Norcross Enterprise caused great harm to individuals, businesses, nonprofits, the people of the State of New Jersey, and especially the City of Camden and its residents. That ends today.”

Platkin described an alleged interaction between George Norcross and a developer when the 68-year-old wanted to purchase what would later become the Triad1828 Center.

“When the developer initially refused to give up his rights on the terms preferred by the Norcross firm, George Norcross threatened the developer that he would essentially and partially screw him over in a way that had never been done before. And he told the developer involved that he would make sure that the developer would never do business in Camden again,” Platkin said.

George Norcross's attorney, Michael Critchley, said Platkin did not interview Norcross before Monday's news conference.

“He did not have the decency to want to conduct this investigation, to question Mr. Norcross or to allow him to go before the grand jury. It is a one-sided investigation with a predetermined outcome,” Critchley said.

The indictment includes evidence dating from 2012 to 2024 and alleges that the Norcross company abused its power over government officials to enact and draft legislation that served the interests of their personal mission. The indictment also alleges that Redd and other officials used parts of Camden city government to help the company obtain property and property rights for themselves and others through coercion and extortion.

Redd's attorney Henry Klingeman said the former Camden mayor was surprised by the legal action on Monday:

“She has done nothing wrong. What she has done is serve the Camden community in public and charitable roles for more than three decades. She has cooperated fully with the grand jury investigation for over a year and is not aware of any evidence of wrongdoing on her part or that of others. She looks forward to fighting these false allegations in the courtroom before a judge and jury so that she can restore her good name, which has now been tarnished by the Attorney General's unjust and unwarranted actions.”

Kevin Marino, Phillip Norcross's attorney, said they were looking forward to the trial.

“I don't believe a word of what Mr. Platkin said was fair. I know none of it is supported by the evidence, which I am intimately familiar with, and we really look forward to a trial that should take place as quickly as humanly possible.”

The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on July 9 at 10 a.m. in Mercer County.

New Jersey Attorney General's Office releases 111-page indictment against South Jersey power broker and more

Who is George Norcross?

George Norcross is the executive chairman of the insurance company Conner, Strong & Buckelew, which has multiple offices but is headquartered in Camden, New Jersey. Norcross is also the chairman of the board of Cooper Health.

Who is Phillip Norcross?

Phillip Norcross is an attorney, managing partner and CEO of the New Jersey law firm Parker McCay. Norcross, 61, is the registered agent for the groups that own the Camden buildings at issue in this investigation. He also serves on the board of Cooper Health.

Who is Dana Redd?

Dana Redd was mayor of Camden from 2010 to 2018. The state accuses her of abusing her power to benefit the Norcross company and herself. Redd, 56, is the current CEO of Camden Community Partnership and previously served as a Camden city councilor and member of the New Jersey Senate.

Who is William Tambussi?

William Tambussi is an attorney and partner in the Camden County law firm of Brown and Connery. Tambussi, 66, is George Norcross's attorney. He is legal counsel to the Camden County Democratic Committee, which Norcross chaired from 1989 to 1995. He has also served as outside counsel to Camden, the Camden Redevelopment Agency, Cooper Health and Conner Strong.

Rutgers AAUP-AFT calls for William Tambussi to be expelled from the university’s governing board

Following the indictment, the Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents more than 6,000 full-time faculty and alumni, reiterated its call for Tambussi's removal from the Rutgers University Board of Regents.

“It reinforces and deepens our desire to remove this man from the Rutgers board of directors,” said Todd Wolfson, the union's president. “Keeping him on the board is a slap in the face to all of us.”

Wolfson said the union filed suit earlier this year to fire Tambussi because he allegedly did not meet residency requirements for his position.

He said the union intends to raise its demands again at a board meeting on Thursday.

CBS News Philadelphia has contacted Tambussi's attorney and Tambussi via email but is awaiting a response.

Who is Sidney Brown?

Sidney Brown, 67, is CEO of NFI, a transportation and logistics company, a board member of Cooper Health and a partner in the groups that own the Camden buildings affected by the investigation.

Who is John O’Donnell?

John O'Donnell works on the leadership team of The Michaels Organization, a housing development company. O'Donnell, 61, is a partner in the groups that own the buildings in Camden that are the subject of the allegations. He has also served on the board of the Camden Community Partnership on several occasions since 2018.

Anna Harden

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