Mayor Accused of Putting Atlantic City ‘Up for Sale’
Mayor James Usry, a former Harlem Globetrotter who ousted a corrupt incumbent in a recall fight and rose to the presidency of the National Conference of Black Mayors, was arrested today and charged with taking a $6,000 bribe and putting local government “up for sale.”
Usry, the only black Republican mayor of a major New Jersey municipality, was one of 14 Atlantic City politicians, public officials, and businessmen charged after a nine-month undercover investigation of corruption in the oceanside casino resort.
The defendants, facing various charges of bribery, conspiracy, official misconduct and election law violations, also included the City Council president, two other council members, a former council member, a county freeholder, a freeholder candidate and seven others.
The charges described five separate but overlapping bribery and influence-peddling conspiracies that, as a whole, indicate that “the regulation of economic activity in Atlantic City, as administered by those arrested, has been up for sale,” State Police Supt. Clinton Pagano said.
He was accused of taking a $6,000 payoff Friday from a local businessman working undercover for the State Police. The bribe was allegedly paid in a hospital room where Usry, 67, was recovering from a shoulder injury incurred in a gardening accident. It allegedly was in return for Usry’s backing a proposed ordinance allowing operation of motorized versions of the resort’s famous Boardwalk “rolling chairs” during the summer months.
Usry was a center from 1946 to 1951 with the New York Renaissance, an all-black team that became part of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters during his tenure. He became Atlantic City’s assistant superintendent of schools in 1977.