(Bloomberg Law) -- Democratic power broker and southern New Jersey insurance businessman George Norcross was indicted Monday in an alleged tax incentive development scheme.

Norcross, the brother of US Rep. Donald Norcross (D), used his position of influence in Camden, NJ to run a 12-year conspiracy to pressure, extort, and steer incentives towards certain individuals and business entities on the Camden waterfront, the state alleges.

“This indictment alleges that a group of unelected private businessmen used their power and influence to get government at the state and local level to aid their criminal enterprise and further their interests,” New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin (D) said in a press conference.

The conspiracy helped gather the rights to tax credits in an entity owned by Norcross and his associates—tax credits totaling over $240 million, the state said. The 13-count racketeering conspiracy indictment alleges roughly a decade of extortion, criminal coercion, and official misconduct wrapped up into the enterprise with Norcross at the head.

Summing up the scheme, Platkin said a member of the enterprise was recorded saying the economic and political pressure was like they “held a bat” over a rival developer’s head.

Political Pressure

Norcross, who is chair of the board of trustees of Cooper University Health Care, has played a prominent role in bringing real estate development, both residential and commercial, to the city of Camden, through hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives.

A former member of the Democratic National Committee and chair of the Camden County Democratic Committee in the early 1990s, Norcross has long wielded power over elections across the state, particularly in South Jersey. He also made inroads with Republicans, befriending former Gov. Chris Christie (R), and joining Mar-A-Lago.

The indictment alleges Norcross and his enterprise helped write the incentives law, then used connections with local politicians to steer contracts and rights to preferred developers through government contracts, and local political appointments—even going so far as to pressure local government to go after a rival developer.

Among the companies with a presence in the city are NFI, nuclear plant manufacturer Holtec International, Campbell’s Soup, Subaru of America, and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. A map released by state prosecutors said they were going to claw back rights and cash from the developers of some of Camden’s most high-profile buildings.

Also indicted are NFI Industries CEO Sidney Brown; Norcross’s brother, Philip Norcross, who is managing shareholder and CEO at the Parker McCay law firm; former Camden Mayor Dana Redd (D); real estate businessman John O’Donnell; and William Tambussi, who is George Norcross’s longtime attorney.

“It’s often said that in New Jersey politics is a bloodsport. That’s meant that if you don’t go along with the demands of those in power you might lose your job, lose your business or that the very government that you support, that uses your tax dollars, will be used against you,” Platkin said. “All of those consequences are at stake in this indictment.”

The case is New Jersey v. Norcross, N.J. Super. Ct., No. 24-06-00111-S, indictment unsealed 6/17/24.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Ebert in Madison, Wisconsin at aebert@bloombergindustry.com; Alex Clearfield in Washington at aclearfield@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloombergindustry.com

(Updates with additional detail about George Norcross in paragraph six. A previous version corrected Chris Christie’s party affiliation in paragraph seven.)

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