ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS/AP) — Atlantic City got a new mayor on Friday. A swearing in ceremony took place at noon as City Council President Marty Small replaced Frank Gilliam, who resigned amid scandal.
The mayor’s page on @AtlanticCityGov’s website has an error message. Former mayor Frank Gilliam resigned yesterday amid wire fraud charges. Council President Marty Small will be sworn in at noon today @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/M1lLgN3Af3
— Howard Monroe (@HMonroeNews) October 4, 2019
“I’m going to follow the law at all times,” Small declared.
Small was speaking at a ceremonial swearing in-ceremony in City Hall a day after his predecessor admitted stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball team he had founded. Gilliam resigned hours later.
And so the mayoral merry-go-round spun yet again in this seaside gambling resort whose long, rich history of corruption was chronicled in the hit HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”
Small, 45, said he would not talk about Gilliam other than to ask residents to pray for the former mayor and his family. Gilliam could get 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 7.
“Today is a day about moving forward,” Small said. “I’m humbled by the opportunity. I don’t take it lightly.”
Gilliam, 49, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Camden to stealing money that was purportedly for the basketball team and for school supplies for poor children. But prosecutors say he used it on himself — for trips, fancy clothes and other personal expenses.
Gilliam apologized to residents in a letter Thursday afternoon.
“It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation as the Mayor of the City of Atlantic City, effective immediately,” Gilliam wrote in a letter filed with the city clerk. “My sincere apologies to each constituent that voted for me and had high hopes in my tenure.”
Yet his lawyer issued a statement trying to lessen the perceived severity of the crime, noting that Gilliam stole private money, not public funds.
Gilliam stepped down shortly after New Jersey’s attorney general filed court papers seeking his ouster under New Jersey’s Forfeiture of Public Office law.
Small was first elected to the City Council in 2004 and most recently served as council president. He’ll retain his position as council president while also serving as acting mayor.
“Marty has been here through the ups and downs of Atlantic City and I think he’s going to do it, I definitely do,” resident Steve Grohman.
The title of mayor is a temporary one for Small. The city’s Democratic Committee will name three people it would like to see complete Gilliam’s term. Small says he plans to put his name up for consideration.
“These are challenging and both controversial times and I’m going to give it my all to get Atlantic City through this and through the future,” Small said.
Small says he’s meeting with the state in the next few weeks to discuss the city’s finances.
Small himself has been charged twice — and acquitted twice — of election-related fraud in cases he maintains were politically motivated.
CBS3’s Howard Monroe contributed to this report.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)