Bryant convicted on all counts

November 18, 2008 12:19:57 PM PST
Former New Jersey state Sen. Wayne Bryant, the former chairman of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, was convicted Tuesday of bribery and pension fraud following an eight-week trial. The once powerful Democrat was accused of being paid for a job that required no work at a scandal-ridden state university in exchange for securing state funding for it. He was also accused of using that job and two others where he did little or no work to fraudulently triple his state pension.

Bryant stood stoically as the verdict was read. His wife, sitting behind him in the front row, sobbed loudly as each of the 13 counts against him were read. He left the courtroom, flanked by lawyers and a bailiff, without speaking.

Bryant attorney Carl Poplar declined to comment on the verdict or say whether Bryant, who faces several years in prison, would appeal.

"We're going to review everything," Poplar said.

Also convicted Tuesday was the former dean at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey's School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford. R. Michael Gallagher was accused of creating a phony job for Bryant, using the legislator's influence to become dean, and devising phony profits on financial statements to receive bonuses.

He was convicted of five counts of mail fraud and acquitted on one count of mail fraud.

Both Bryant and Gallagher remain free until their sentencing hearing, set for March 20.

Bryant, 61, joined the Assembly in 1982 and became a senator in 1995. He represents Camden, the nation's poorest city, and had a national reputation for pushing welfare reform.

He was indicted in March 2007 and retired from politics earlier this year.

Authorities say he was paid $200,000 over four years by the Gloucester County Board of Social Services, yet worked less than 15 hours total, and of holding down a job at UMDNJ that had no responsibilities at all.

A judge dismissed charges related to another job at Rutgers University's Camden campus, where he gave just a handful of lectures each year.

Authorities say the extra jobs boosted Bryant's state pension from $28,000 a year to $81,000.

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