ATLANTIC CITY — The city's mayor on Thursday resigned from office, hours after pleading guilty to wire fraud in a scheme that ripped off a basketball club out of $87,000.

Frank Gilliam Jr.'s resignation also followed calls by Gov. Phil Murphy and others for him to step down as he awaits sentencing on the federal conviction.

Earlier in the day, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal filed a lawsuit in Superior Court to force Gilliam out of office under the state's Forfeiture of Public Office law, which allows for the expulsion of corrupt public officials who are convicted of certain crimes.

In a letter to the City Council, Gilliam said his resignation would be immediate.

"I would like to apologize to the residents of the great City of Atlantic City who deserve stability and respect," the Democrat said. "My sincere apologies to each constituent that voted for me and had high hopes in my future."

FBI agents were seen in December carting boxes and computer equipment out of his home. But news of the charges surfaced Thursday in a whirlwind end to the 49-year-old's political career.

Gilliam, 49, was elected in 2017 after defeating the city's incumbent Republican mayor, Don Guardian. He was first elected to the City Council in 2008.

His short stint as mayor was marred by a scandal involving a fight outside the Golden Nugget's Haven Nightclub in November. Video showed Gilliam and Councilman Jeffree Fauntleroy II in the fracas. Misdemeanor charges were later dropped.

Gilliam could face 20 years in prison and must pay back what he stole.

Before Gilliam's resignation, Grewal said Gilliam was "not fit for office."

"I commend the U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI for securing this guilty plea," Grewal said. "Together we must foster a culture of integrity in New Jersey government to safeguard the public interest.”

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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