ATLANTIC CITY — The investigation into Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam and City Councilman Jeffree Fauntleroy II stemming from an early morning brawl outside a casino nightclub has been transferred to the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office, officials confirmed Tuesday.
The altercation outside the Golden Nugget around 2:30 a.m. Sunday left the mayor with visible bruising under his eyes and mostly holed up Tuesday in his seventh-floor City Hall office, declared off limits to reporters.
"Atlantic City is bigger than just one person," New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said while arriving at City Hall on Tuesday for a previously scheduled meeting. Oliver has oversight power over the city under a state takeover that is entering its third year, and returned later Tuesday for a separate meeting with the mayor.
The mayor left City Hall for the day around 5 p.m. When asked by reporters if he was still mayor, he answered, "Today," and got into the front passenger seat of his city SUV.
Oliver said the incident, which left the mayor with a black eye, was "absolutely not" a setback for the state's efforts in Atlantic City.
Her security detail briefly tried to bar reporters from entering City Hall as they interviewed Oliver. The meeting of the Executive Council, a committee formed after a report by Gov. Murphy's special counsel, Jim Johnson, was closed to the media.
Gilliam was sequestered in his office earlier Tuesday as Oliver and other state and city officials arrived for the meeting. Video of the incident outside the Golden Nugget casino showed the mayor exchanging punches with an unidentified man, law enforcement sources said.
Following the meeting, Gilliam left City Hall speaking into his cell phone, the bruised eye visible but obscured by his glasses. "No comment, thank you," he said.
Fauntleroy arrived a short time later and also declined to comment. In an interview Monday, Fauntleroy said he and the mayor "were trying to leave a bad situation" when they were followed out by employees of the nightclub. He said he had not been informed of any complaints filed against him or Gilliam, but that a reporter with the news site Breaking A.C. had shown him a copy of a police communication referring to such complaints.
City Hall security officers barred reporters from staying on the seventh floor on Tuesday.
Oliver said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal had ordered the case involving Gilliam and Fauntleroy transferred out of Atlantic County. She said she had not spoken with Gilliam about the incident. "Of course it's concerning," she said.
Johnson, whose report on Atlantic City is the foundation of the Executive Council meetings, said he was "staying on task," and would let the matter involving the mayor and Fauntleroy play out in the law enforcement sphere.
He called the allegations "disturbing," but said Gilliam did not address the topic at the meeting, which was chaired by Oliver.
"It wasn't on the agenda," Johnson said.
Johnson, Oliver, Gilliam, and Grewal are all scheduled to speak at the League of Municipalities Convention, which began Tuesday in Atlantic City. Oliver and Grewal are both slated to be speakers at the annual Mayor's Box Luncheon.