MARCH 30, 2007
A powerful New Jersey politician known as the king of double dipping for simultaneously collecting salaries from as many as four public jobs has been federally indicted for a corruption scheme that bilked taxpayers out of thousands.
As a longtime state legislator Democrat Wayne Bryant promoted himself as an advocate for the poor who became New Jersey’s highest ranking black lawmaker while in the Assembly in the early 1990s. When he was elected to the state senate, he become a member of a powerful budget committee and used his leverage to grant several lucrative state contracts to his relatives and his own law firm.
Federal investigators have been watching Bryant for years and this week prosecutors released a 20-count indictment accusing the renowned senator of unlawfully using his power and influence to fraudulently earn a salary from New Jersey’s University of Medicine and Dentistry for a job that didn’t exist. The $40,841 salary boosted the lawmaker’s government pension from about $28,000 to $81,286 in four years.
Also indicted was the dean at the school’s division of osteopathic medicine, who created the job for Bryant as a bribe for using his influence on the senate budget committee to get millions of dollars in extra funding. Bryant actually directed and created changes in the state budget to obtain the extra money for his co conspirator.
In return, the dean (Michael Gallagher) created a bogus taxpayer-funded position that listed responsibilities as planning, directing, organizing and implementing efforts to improve university communications and image. Gallagher is also charged with creating phony financial statements that allowed him to get annual bonuses of between $15,000 and $20,000 in addition to his six-figure state salary.
Additionally, federal prosecutors say that Senator Bryant targeted another state school – Rutgers University in Camden–that depended on him for political support and funding. He hit administrators up for yet another bogus job that would further increase his retirement benefits.
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