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What were the facts and the circumstances in the case of the prosecution of James L. Usry?  

James L. Usry was the first Black mayor of Atlantic City. He was supposed to quell corruption. However, he was charged with conspiracy, bribery, and accepting gifts as a public servant. It’s likely the evidence was quite flimsy. It’s also possible the accusations were racially motivated. Of the 15 people implicated in the case, 13 were Black.

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As you might already know, James L. Usry was the first Black mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Over the years, it’s gained a reputation for crime, corruption, and gambling. Atlantic City was the home of the controversial Trump Taj Mahal before it was bought by Hard Rock International.

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As you might already know, James L. Usry was the first Black mayor of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Over the years, it’s gained a reputation for crime, corruption, and gambling. Atlantic City was the home of the controversial Trump Taj Mahal before it was bought by Hard Rock International.

Back to Usry. Usry was not from Atlantic City. He wasn’t born in New Jersey. He was born in Athens, Georgia in 1922. It was a severely segregated Southern town.

After serving in World War Two, Usry made his way to Atlantic City. He worked at a place called Club Harlem and was even a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Eventually, Usry took up politics. He was a Republican and he first ran for mayor in 1982. He lost to Michael Mathews, but it was a close race. Two years later, with Mathews about to go to jail for extortion, Usry won.

Considering Usry’s working-class background, people thought Usry would put an end to the corruption that plagued the government. They appear to have been mistaken.

An Atlantic City businessman named Albert Black complained that city offices wanted a bribe in return for approving one his business proposals. Investigators claimed that Usry let Black carry out his motorized cart business on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk in exchange for a $500 check and $6,000 in cash.

Usury was charged with conspiracy, bribery, and accepting gifts as a public servant. In the end, he only plead guilty to campaign contribution violations. It appears the evidence for the other crimes was rather shoddy and perhaps motivated by racial animus. Of the 15 people charged in connection with Usury’s case, 13 were Black.

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