After his latest court appearance in Trenton yesterday, State Sen. Wayne R. Bryant gave his characteristic blank stare to reporters asking him about the charges of fraud and political corruption facing him.
But for the judge, he lodged his first public statement on the matter.
He pleaded not guilty.
Bryant, who was indicted March 29 while on vacation in Mexico, has been charged with using his influence to collect three no-show jobs with public bodies that nearly tripled the value of his pension.
During yesterday’s 20-minute, largely procedural hearing in federal court, the Camden Democrat was placed under oath before answering questions about his educational background and whether he had taken any alcohol or drugs that would prevent him from understanding the proceedings.
Bryant, 59, then waived the reading of the indictment against him and entered his plea. A trial date was set for Jan. 28.
Defense lawyers said they expected to review “voluminous” amounts of evidence in the case, and the judge set several dates for filing motions and conferences on the case’s progress.
Bryant’s co-defendant, R. Michael Gallagher, went through the same process and also entered a not-guilty plea. Gallagher, former dean of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, has been charged with helping get Bryant a no-show job at the school.
He is also charged in a separate fraud scheme to pay himself bonuses. Gallagher, 59, resigned from his position in 2006.
Bryant, the former head of the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, is accused of steering millions of dollars to the osteopathic school after getting his $35,000-a-year, part-time job there.
He also held positions at Rutgers University-Camden and the Gloucester County Board of Social Services, two jobs in which prosecutors said Bryant did little or no work. He held all three jobs, as well as his seat in the Senate, from 2003 to 2005, the last three years before Bryant would have been eligible for his public pension.
In those three years, he increased the value of his pension from $28,000 to $81,000, prosecutors said.
By the time the trial date arrives, Bryant will have left behind his 30-year career in public life. He announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection.
Original Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/nj/20070410_Bryants_first_public_words__Not_guilty.html#v5xFc3w5YkW96oCQ.99