Atlantic City mayor says search warrant involves ‘private family matter’, not corruption


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small said Monday that the search of his home last week by prosecutors involved “a private family issue,” not a crime.

The Democratic mayor held a news conference at City Hall last Thursday to respond to the execution of five search warrants by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office naming the mayor and his wife, Laquetta Small, the city’s superintendent of schools.

Smalls said he and his wife have been communicating with state child welfare officials and have nothing to hide.

“We are going through family therapy and this should be a family matter,” he said.

Smalls’s wife and two children attended the press conference with him but did not speak and left before the conference was completed.

State Child Protection and Permanency Division spokesman Jason Butkowski said Monday he could not discuss their cases publicly to protect the privacy of those involved.

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Smalls’ attorney Edwin Jacobs said that after officers from the county prosecutor’s office searched the Smalls’ home and vehicles, they left with two cellphones and four to six laptops.

“This entire investigation was nothing more than a personal and emotional family matter,” Jacobs said. “Mayor Smalls and his wife LaQuetta have a really high public profile, and deservedly so. Like any family, there are challenges in raising children in a small family, and they are not as amenable to scrutiny or oversight by the county prosecutor.

Small said 20 heavily armed officers from the prosecutor’s office converged on his home a few blocks from the city’s casino, adding that some had rifles and batons.

No charges were announced against Smalls in the days following the raid.

The prosecutor’s office issued a statement responding to Smalls’ news conference, saying its officers followed all policies and protocols, acted professionally and treated Smalls respectfully, but declined to comment further. Refused.

The search of the mayor’s home came hours after the prosecutor’s office announced it had charged an Atlantic City high school principal with failing to report a case of suspected child abuse, as required by law.

The prosecutor’s office on Thursday charged Constance Days-Chapman with official misconduct, hindering the apprehension of another, obstruction of justice and failure to report child abuse.

The agency said in a news release that on January 22, a teenage student at the high school reported to a school staff member that the student had been emotionally and physically abused by the student’s parents, and that the student had previously Told DAYS about this abuse. -Chapman.

According to the prosecutor’s office, Deese-Chapman told the staff member she would report the matter to state child welfare officials, but she never did. Instead, Deese-Chapman met with the teen’s parents at the parents’ home and informed them that the teen told school staff that they were being abused by the teen.

Neither the student nor the parents were identified in the news release. Deese-Chapman’s office did not respond to telephone messages left Thursday and Monday seeking comment from her office.

Deese-Chapman is also chair of the city’s Democratic Committee, and led Marty Small’s mayoral re-election campaign in 2021.

When asked directly whether the student referenced in the allegations against Deese-Chapman was Smalls’ daughter, Jacobs said he would not “respond to any specific factual allegations.”

“We are not here to hear a case that has not been brought,” he said.

But Smalls defended the principal, referring to her by her nickname and saying she’s such a close friend that she’s practically a member of her family.

“We stand with Mandy and Mandy stands with us,” Smalls said. “He has not done anything wrong. We have not done anything wrong.”

Smalls noted Atlantic City’s long history of political corruption, which was immortalized in the hit TV series “Boardwalk Empire.” Smalls himself took over after admitting to stealing $87,000 from a youth basketball program founded by his predecessor.

He said, “For those of you who want to think that this goes beyond business as usual in Atlantic City – that when this raid happens, it involves corruption – it’s not.” “My wife and I control half a billion dollars of taxpayer money, and we’re doing a pretty good job at it.”

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