US seeks 15-21 months in prison for ex-Atlantic City mayor

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Federal prosecutors are seeking a 15-21-month prison term for the former mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey, who pleaded guilty to stealing money from a youth basketball program he founded.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports prosecutors have filed documents with U.S. District Court in Camden seeking prison time for Frank Gilliam, who was supposed to have been sentenced over a year ago but has remained free after numerous postponements.

Gilliam pleaded guilty Oct. 3, 2019 to wire fraud and resigned as mayor of Atlantic City. He acknowledged stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball program he had set up, using some of the money for personal items including expensive clothing, trips and meals.

Prosecutors noted that Gilliam had experienced tragedy as a 3-year-old child when his father killed his mother inside their home. But that does not excuse his conduct as mayor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell wrote.

“Gilliam experienced tragedy early in his life and turned to basketball both as an outlet and to avoid the pitfalls of living in a tough neighborhood plagued by drug use,” Farrell wrote. “But instead of using (the basketball program) to teach the game he loves and make a difference in the lives of young people through basketball, he used the team as a personal piggy bank in order to furnish a lifestyle that he otherwise could not afford."

In their own court filings, lawyers for Gilliam argued against sending him to prison, saying the former mayor experiences “extreme remorse” for his actions.

In a letter to the court, Gilliam himself asked to be sentenced to probation and 500 hours of community service.

“Over the past year, I have had time to think about who I am and what will become of me and my life moving forward,” he wrote. “The feeling of being extremely saddened and sorry about my actions has continuously haunted my thoughts on a daily basis."

A new sentencing date has yet to be set. The first one to be scheduled was Jan. 7, 2020.