Former Atlantic City Mayor Andrew Gilliam (D) has been sentenced to 30 days in prison after pleading guilty to fraud.
Upon his release, Gilliam will serve three years probation and must do 200 hours of community service after he pleaded guilty “to wire fraud and admitting to taking about $87,000 from a youth sports program,” The Press of Atlantic City reported.
Federal prosecutors had originally sought a 15- to 21-month sentence for the crime, which targeted a kids’ basketball program.
A lying thief
According to reports, Gilliam actively solicited donations said to be for the program, as well as school supplies for children in need.
But instead of handing it over, Gilliam pocketed the money, the prosecution said.
“This defendant stole more money than many U.S. residents earn in a year,” U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Rodriguez said of the case, according to the Daily Caller. “The defendant also took money from the very underprivileged children in Atlantic City that he tried to encourage and prepare for a better life.”
A light sentence
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell had argued that despite the early hardships that Gilliam faced in his life, he was still deserving of a strong sentence.
Gilliam’s defense attorneys, meanwhile, said Gilliam is an important figure in the community who made important contributions to underprivileged people in Atlantic City. Of course, that doesn’t address the fact that Gilliam used his status as mayor to steal $87,000 to furnish a lavish lifestyle.
At just one month, Gilliam’s sentence for such a crime is a slap on the wrist in every sense of the word. While it’s good he was convicted, it seems the precedent has been set that mayors can steal thousands and get away with nearly no prison time.
A major blow
Gilliam now joins a long list of New Jersey mayors who have been convicted for some form of corruption. But the biggest blow for Gilliam isn’t the time behind bars or even the community service; it’s the fact that he will no longer be able to run for public office.
It’s good news, because there’s no doubt Gilliam would return to politics if he were eligible.
If he could escape a nearly-two-year prison sentence, Gilliam clearly has the connections to work his way back into public office. That’s why elected officials need to be held to the highest standard, and punished when they do wrong; we simply can’t accept any less.