A federal jury in Trenton convicted New Jersey Republican power broker George Gilmore on Wednesday of evading payroll taxes owed by his Toms River law firm and lying on a loan application in 2015.
But the panel deadlocked on counts that the 70-year-old Gilmore dodged nearly $1.5 million in personal income taxes between 2013 and 2015 while spending lavishly on items such as model train sets, a decorative woolly mammoth tusk, and a $33,000 life-size bronze statue of George Washington. Jurors acquitted him on two counts of filing false tax returns.
Gilmore, the longtime chairman of the Ocean County Republican Committee, faces possible prison time at a sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson scheduled for July 23.
Any term of incarceration could upend the party infrastructure that helped elect governors including Chris Christie and Christie Whitman. Gilmore has been a fixture in that establishment since 1996, leading a reliable county-level Republican machine in a largely blue state. He served as a delegate for President Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
When a federal grand jury indicted Gilmore this year on six counts — including tax evasion, filing false tax returns, failure to pay payroll taxes, and making false statements on a loan application — many of his political allies pledged to stand by him.
They did so throughout a three-week trial that opened April 1, even as prosecutors — and Gilmore’s own defense lawyer, Kevin Marino — introduced embarrassing details about his personal finances as evidence.
Prosecutors highlighted $2.5 million worth of purchases Gilmore made during the period they alleged he was dodging the IRS, including a $20,000 Steinway piano, $800,000 in collectible model trains, and more than $380,000 to install an infinity pool, a cabana, marble flooring, and mahogany mantels at one of the five properties he owned.
Marino had argued that his client was a hoarder who couldn’t control his impulse to shop, but was blocked by the judge from calling an expert witness to testify to that. The defense lawyer then maintained that while Gilmore spent “like a sailor on leave,” that didn’t make him a criminal, and that he never intended to cheat the government.
Marino told jurors his client routinely fell into the bad habit of paying his taxes late, but always made a good-faith effort to settle his accounts with the IRS and cover interest and penalties.
Gilmore, meanwhile, marshaled his deep list of New Jersey political contacts — including former Gov. Jim McGreevey, a Democrat, and ex-Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, a Republican — to testify as character witnesses in his defense. Both said they had always known Gilmore to be an honest person.