Dem Powerbroker Smirks as He Crashes AG’s Presser Announcing His Indictment

New Jersey Attorney General’s Office
New Jersey Attorney General’s Office

New Jersey’s once-mighty Democratic powerbroker George Norcross didn’t appear all that bothered by a sweeping racketeering indictment that officials announced against him on Monday.

Instead, cameras captured him sitting calmly and staring down prosecutors from the front row of a news conference meant to detail the mob-like charges against him, his brother, and four of their associates—allegations that could send them each to prison for up to five years.

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin read off a lengthy statement about the 13-count indictment, but rarely looked up at Norcross or the crowd of reporters. The charges—and Norcross’ bizarre stunt—further burnished the Garden State’s reputation as a hotbed of mob tactics and corruption.

The indictment accused Norcross, his brother Philip, his lawyer William Tambussi, former Camden Mayor Dana Redd, trucking company CFO Sidney Brown, and property developer John O’Donnell of using their influence over government entities to unlawfully obtain property rights on the waterfront in Camden, just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. The group are also accused of collecting millions of dollars in government-issued tax credits.

Before Monday’s news conference began, cameras captured a spokesperson for Platkin’s office attempting to get Norcross to move from the front-row seat, which he refused to do.

When that same spokesperson took to the podium to launch the news conference, Norcross asked if he could ask questions of Platkin along with reporters—a request that was harshly shot down.

“The Attorney General will take a couple of quick questions after the remarks are concluded, but he’ll only be taking questions from reporters, as is normal with our press conferences,” she said. “Of course, whenever we have press conferences, we limit it to reporters. It’s a press conference. It’s for the reporters to ask questions.”

Norcross nevertheless remained in the seat closest to Platkin and stayed there for the full 30-minute news conference. The back of his head was visible from a live stream, which showed him staring at Platkin.

When the time for questions came, Norcross appeared to play nice and kept his mouth shut—though Platkin only hung around an extra two minutes to field queries from reporters. As Platkin walked out of the room, the live stream captured Norcross turning his head in Platkin’s direction and smirking.

Norcross, a 68-year-old insurance executive, never held public office in New Jersey but was a key member of the Democratic National Committee. He was credited with using his influence—and checkbook—to push through his pick of governors and lawmakers, and favorable legislation.

Platkin alleged Monday that Norcross’ political work had a shady underbelly that allowed him to illicitly profit millions over at least 12 years.

“The Norcross enterprise manipulated government programs and processes designed to attract development and investment to instead suit their own financial desires,” Platkin said. “Instead of contributing to the successes of the city of Camden, through a series of criminal acts alleged in the state’s case, the Norcross enterprise took the Camden waterfront all for themselves.”

The 111-page indictment alleges that Norcross’ threats were mob-like, including violent threats at real estate developers who opposed his scheme.

“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****d up before,’ and told the developer he would make sure the developer never did business in Camden again,” the indictment says.

Platkin expounded on the nature of Norcross’ threats.

“It’s often said that in New Jersey, politics is a blood sport,” he said. “And what’s meant by that is that if you don’t go along with the demands of those in political power, you’ll get hurt.”

Prior to Monday, Norcross most recently grabbed headlines in November when he was booted from a suite at a Philadelphia Eagles home game for draping a half-Israeli, half-U.S. flag, over a ledge. Clips captured the moment he was confronted by security officers.

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While he has had a heavy hand in New Jersey politics for decades, he suggested last summer he’d take a step back from politics after a series of legislative defeats.

Norcross’ announcement to exit politics coincided with reports that the New Jersey attorney general’s office was relaunching a probe into big-money tax breaks that were awarded to companies close to Norcross.

Norcross’ wife, Sandy Norcross, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast. Radar Online reported that Norcross had no comment on the indictment on Monday but said he “will later.”

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