Bubbles for Autism at Atlantic City Hall

Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam, right, and Connecting the Dots co-founder Pat Tweedle, left, in a file photo taken at an event outside City Hall in 2018.

ATLANTIC CITY — An educational charity associated with former Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. has agreed to pay a $2,500 fine for soliciting donations without registering or reporting to the state, the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs said late Friday.

Connecting the Dots signed a consent order Sept. 11 agreeing to the fine and to comply with state and federal law.

The decree also calls for the nonprofit to “maintain a bank account in its name and not co-mingle personal funds of any current or former officer, director, employee, agent or volunteer of Connecting the Dots with funds of Connecting the Dots.”

Connecting the Dots President Patricia Tweedle could not be reached by phone Friday.

The nonprofit was named by Gilliam as the recipient of funds raised at his inaugural ball in March 2018, but neither Gilliam nor anyone from the charity would say how much if any of the funds was given to the charity. Tickets for the inaugural ball started at $300, and sponsorships ranged from $500 to $35,000.

The event was held at Resorts Casino Hotel and featured a lineup of celebrities, including former professional basketball player Dennis Rodman and boxing champion Evander Holyfield.

In registration paperwork Connecting the Dots recently provided to the Division of Consumer Affairs, and which the state provided to The Press on Friday, the charity reported income of $224,486 in fiscal year 2018, which would cover the time of the ball.

On Oct. 3, Gilliam resigned as mayor after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud, admitting to cheating an unrelated youth basketball charity out of $87,000. He will be sentenced in January and faces up to 20 years imprisonment, although a former federal prosecutor familiar with sentencing guidelines says Gilliam could avoid prison entirely based on the plea agreement details.

The registration paperwork for Connecting the Dots lists Tweedle as president, Vincent McDaniel as vice president and treasurer, and Islah Muhammad as secretary. There is no mention of involvement by Gilliam.

Gilliam, who became involved with Connecting the Dots as early as 2009, filed ethics filings with the state that said he received payments of at least $2,000 a year from Connecting the Dots for several years.

But Connecting the Dots reported no payments to Gilliam, or any of the other four people who worked five to 25 hours a week for it, when it filed a 990 tax form with the IRS for 2015 and said it raised about $5,000. In 2016 and 2017, it filed e-postcard returns with the IRS certifying it raised less than $50,000 each year.

The charity cooperated with the investigation by the Division of Consumer Affairs under the Charitable Registration and Investigations Act and the Consumer Fraud Act, according to the division.

The group has been active in providing SAT/ACT preparation classes; swimming classes for children with special needs; classes to help people clear up outstanding warrants; science, technology, engineering and math training; and more.

Lisa Coryell, public information officer for the Attorney General’s Office, said Friday the office would have “no further comment on any specific contribution to Connecting the Dots, but refer you to the statement of gross contributions in the organization’s registration statement.”

The state had just received the registration statement and has not yet processed it, Coryell said.

Contact: 609-272-7219


Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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