A day after his conviction on tax evasion charges was upheld by a federal court, former Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore, a New Jersey political kingmaker and power attorney who reaped millions in public contracts, received a pardon from President Donald Trump as he left office.
Gilmore’s name appeared on a list of those who would be issued pardons released late Tuesday night. The mitigating factors that led to his release included the fact that he “has made important civic contributions over his career in New Jersey.” He had 15 formal supporters of his pardon, including former Govs. Chris Christie, James McGreevey, James Florio, Donald DiFrancesco, John Bennett and Lt. Gov. Kimberly Guadagno. Political operative Bill Stepien also signed a letter of support, along with former U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur and a number of lesser-known political figures. Notable, however, was the letter of support from Bay Head resident and GOP fundraiser Larry Bathgate, an attorney based in Lakewood.
The pardon is different than a commutation, where a convict is allowed out of prison but retains the underlying conviction. Gilmore, who never served any prison time, will likely be able to re-establish powerful tools such as his law license, ability to hold public office and even the chance at regaining chairmanship of the Ocean County GOP over its current leader, Frank Holman. A Holman-Gilmore rift has been widely known to have driven controversy within the party in recent months.
Gilmore, 71, of Toms River, was sentenced Jan. 22 to 366 days in federal prison for his conviction on two counts of failing to submit payroll taxes withheld from employees of his law firm, Gilmore & Monahan, to the IRS and one count of making false statements on a bank loan application submitted to OceanFirst Bank. His sentence was stayed pending appeal, but was upheld this week.
Gilmore argued he could not pay his taxes due to a hoarding disorder that caused him to collect various expensive items, such as cars and historical documents of high value.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons reported he was “not in custody” Wednesday morning and it was expected he would begin serving his sentence in the coming weeks, if not immediately.