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Political Kingpin Charged With Racketeering For Allegedly Using Threats To Amass Waterfront Property Empire

A longtime Democratic leader was charged Monday for allegedly helping lead a criminal enterprise that diverted dollars meant for economic development and used them for personal gain.

The state charged George Norcross III and five co-defendants with unlawfully gaining waterfront property rights and using strong-arm maneuvers and threats to secure property in Camden, New Jersey, which sits just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

2 Cooper St., known as Triad1828 Centre, from the south side parking lot in 2019.

Norcross and associates allegedly collected millions of dollars in improper tax breaks and exerted illegal political influence to ensure they ended up with properties they wanted, according to The Wall Street Journal. That includes Triad1828 Centre, the tallest building on the Camden waterfront and the headquarters of Norcross’ insurance firm.

The 111-page indictment lists activities that date back at least 12 years.

“The Norcross enterprise took the city of Camden’s waterfront all for themselves,” New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin said during a news conference to discuss the charges.

Norcross, chairman of insurance firm Conner Strong & Buckelew, is singled out as the ringleader of the conspiracy in court documents. Others named include his son, the attorney Philip Norcross, former Camden Mayor Dana Redd and two Pennsylvania-based associates in the commercial real estate industry.

Among other instances of wrongdoing, the indictment accuses Norcross of threatening violence against other developers, citing phone transcripts as evidence.

When the owner of the land that became Triad1828 didn’t relinquish property rights on Norcross’ terms, he allegedly threatened the owner.

“Are you threatening me?” the developer asked, according to a recorded call quoted in the indictment.  

“Absolutely,” Norcross said.

As a former Democratic National Committee member and former head of the Camden County Democratic Party, Norcross has been a major player in New Jersey politics. 

Norcross sat in the front row of a press conference as charges were read. His attorney, defense lawyer Michael Critchley, accused Platkin of having a “vendetta” against Norcross, according to The Associated Press.