ATLANTIC CITY — Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr.’s legal woes continue as a civil suit claiming breach of contract was filed against him Monday in state Superior Court.

Meredith Adele Godfrey claims she lent Gilliam $5,000 in August “with the expectation that he would pay her back as soon as possible.” She is seeking repayment of the loan plus interest, court costs and legal fees totaling $10,082.

Gilliam declined to comment. Godfrey referred all questions to her attorney, former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

The complaint alleges a “close personal relationship” between the mayor and Godfrey, who is an entertainment director at Haven Nightclub in Golden Nugget Atlantic City, but Guadagno declined to elaborate on the nature of the relationship.

Gilliam and Councilman Jeffree Fauntleroy II were part of a scuffle outside Haven on Nov. 11 that involved three employees from the nightclub.

According to the suit, Godfrey attempted to collect the debt in October and November but Gilliam either failed to respond to text messages or pay her back. The two-count complaint accuses Gilliam of theft and conversion as well as breach of contract.

“All (Godfrey) is trying to do is collect money that is owed to her by the mayor,” said Guadagno, who joined the law firm of Connell Foley in April 2018 after serving for eight years as lieutenant governor under Chris Christie and unsuccessfully running as the Republican nominee for governor in 2017.

Guadagno said her client tried to avoid filing a complaint and did not want to go to court over the issue.

According to the complaint, Gilliam sought the loan so he could “pay an attorney for trademark advice regarding a tourism slogan for Atlantic City.”

Tourism marketing in Atlantic City is typically handled by Meet AC and the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. The now-defunct Atlantic City Alliance created the city’s current marketing slogan, “Do AC,” in 2012, and the previous marketing effort, “Always Turned On,” was created in 2003 by the also-defunct Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.

The Mayor’s Office did not respond to questions about why Gilliam would have sought to use personal funds to pay for legal advice related to his professional position.

Council President Marty Small Sr., who challenged Gilliam in the 2017 Democratic mayoral primary, said he was “aware of the situation” on Thursday afternoon but that his focus was on the city’s 2019 budget.

“What’s going on is between Frank Gilliam and the young lady,” he said. “There’s always going to be distractions in government, and I’m not talking about Frank’s situation (specifically). There are distractions that happen, but it’s important to not be distracted.”

The civil suit comes less than a week after charges of simple assault and harassment against Gilliam and Fauntleroy were dismissed in municipal court. The charges were the result of the two elected officials’ involvement in a November melee outside Haven at 2:23 a.m. that was captured on security cameras at Golden Nugget.

Three Haven employees — Julie Rodriguez, Gregory Aulicino and Joseph Camarata — signed complaints against Gilliam and Fauntleroy.

On the video, Gilliam and another unidentified individual can be seen exchanging punches with Camarata. At one point in the video, Fauntleroy is seen tossing Aulicino to the ground from behind. Rodriguez can be seen having a verbal exchange with both elected officials and claimed the two officials threatened to “(expletive) her up,” according to the complaint.

The charges were dismissed Feb. 28 in North Wildwood municipal court. Fauntleroy pleaded guilty to violating an Atlantic City ordinance prohibiting the obstruction of traffic flow in a public space and was ordered to pay a $500 fine.

On Dec. 3, federal authorities from the FBI and the IRS executed a search warrant on Gilliam’s North Ohio Avenue home. Investigators spent nearly four hours there and left with cardboard boxes and computer equipment. Authorities have not said why Gilliam’s home was subject to a search, and the mayor has not been charged with any crime stemming from the search.

Additionally, a criminal complaint was filed in March 2018 by members of the Atlantic City Democratic Committee who claimed Gilliam stole a $10,000 check, but a Superior Court judge found no probable cause and dismissed the charges.

This story was first reported by SaveJersey, a Conservative political blog run by Camden County attorney Matt Rooney.

Contact: 609-272-7222 ddanzis@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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