Ex-NJ senator Bryant sentenced to 4 years

July 24, 2009 5:57:10 PM PDT
A once-powerful New Jersey political figure convicted of bribery and pension fraud has been sentenced to four years in federal prison. Wayne Bryant represented Camden County in the assembly and senate for more than a quarter century. He was the architect of important legislation including welfare reform, but tonight he is one more New Jersey politician headed to prison.

He was a powerful and popular state lawmaker, but today former state senator Wayne Bryant was sentenced to four years in prison.

In handing down the sentence Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Freda Wolfson said former state Sen. Wayne Bryant gave up his impartiality as a legislator when he accepted money, even if he intended to help his constituents with it.

The 61-year-old Bryant was convicted last November of bribery and pension fraud. He was given a low show job at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in exchange for steering millions to the school. The position helped Bryant pad his state pension.

Judge Wolfson said today, 'To obtain a pension you have to do the work."

Bryant told the court, "If I could turn back the time I would have unquestionably exercised different judgment. I cannot express how deeply sorry I am."

Bryant left court without comment.

His brother Mark, Mayor of Lawnside, Camden County, implied there was a racial component to his brother's case.

"It's a real sad day for our family, for all the good works that my brother's done, hoped for a lighter sentence, but apparently the judge did what she had to do. My brother's done what other people have done, and are retiring on, and unfortunately he was legislating while black," Mayor Bryant said.

The sentence of Wayne Bryant on corruption charges comes one day after the prosecutor in this case was announcing the arrest of 44 New Jersey political and religious leaders.

There is no date set when he'll be report.

Bryant will also have to pay $113,000 in restitution and $25,000 in fines.

Dr. Michael Gallagher, the former dean of UMDNJ, was also convicted along with Bryant.

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AP contributed to story.

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