Battle lines have been drawn as a group readies to file criminal charges against Atlantic City’s mayor.
Social media blasts and threats of defamation lawsuits are the aftermath of the decision to file charges against Frank Gilliam and his campaign manager.
The Atlantic City Democratic Committee voted to go forward with the charges during a meeting Monday during which members replaced the group’s leaders.
But this is just diversion, said Councilman Jeffree Fauntleroy, who ran with Gilliam.
The mayor — just two months into his tenure — is accused of intentionally depositing a $10,000 check donated to the city committee into his fundraising account. He has said it was an oversight, and the check was deposited with several others filled out to his campaign.
On Monday, the committee that helped get him elected, voted to file criminal charges against Gilliam.
While those in charge of the investigation say they are still gathering evidence, Fauntleroy questioned their motives, and the person tasked with filing the charges: retired Atlantic City Police Officer John Devlin.
In a Facebook post and a live video, Fauntleroy pointed out that Devlin is one of three officers currently defending themselves against excessive force claims in a federal civil trial.
He accused local media of “covering so much of this Investigation into The Mayor but won’t cover or update you on The Cops that are on trial that have been Corrupt & Rouge in our community for years.”
In return, Devlin questioned Fauntleroy’s motives, asking whether perhaps he benefited from alleged wrongdoings of Gilliam.
Devlin also said he has retained an attorney to protect himself.
“He’s an elected official and, not only did he defame my character, he put me at risk in the community,” he said. “He’s defaming me in public. Maybe some people take his frivolous word seriously. That could possibly be a safety concern for me as a private citizen.”
Fauntleroy laughed at allegations by Devlin that his comments were against the entire police force.
“Here comes the wool being put over people’s eyes again,” said Fauntleroy, who pointed out both his parents were police officers in the city.
“I don’t hate or have any animosity towards (police),” he said. “I think most of them are the bravest people around. Lord knows I couldn’t do that job. I am, as a representative of this community, going to hold them to a higher standard if they are doing wrong against the community. Wrong is wrong.”
Devlin then accused the councilman of “playing damage control.”
“At the end of the day, he did say that there’s rogue corrupt cops,” Devlin said. “For him to backpedal now and play damage control now makes it even more reason for me to think he has an issue with the police in Atlantic City doing their jobs.”
He then said the comments Fauntleroy made publicly could endanger the city in other lawsuits facing involving its officers.
“Stop with the spinning and manipulation of my words,” Fauntleroy said in a statement given to BreakingAC. “I didn’t delete my post and I’m not afraid of what I say.”
He added: “Just as I would be held accountable as a public servant, so are they. God bless the ACPD and their efforts.”
In a Facebook Live video, Fauntleroy said the check issue was handled and questioned why there is still reporting being done about it.
But the issue continues as sources tell BreakingAC at least one other elected official will come forward soon with similar allegations.
The charges against Gilliam are expected to be filed by the end of the week.