Bryant, Gallagher make first court appearance

Posted: April 03, 2007

TRENTON - State Sen. Wayne Bryant made his initial court appearance on corruption charges today, offering no comment in a case that started with the Camden County Democrat and broadened into a statewide investigation.

Bryant and his co-defendant, R. Michael Gallagher, made a brief appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Hughes, who formally advised them of the charges against them. Bryant and Gallagher, a former dean at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, will enter pleas at an arraignment Monday.

Bryant, represented by attorney David Poplar, and Gallagher, represented by Jeremy Frey, did not speak to reporters today. Each of the two men was released after posting a $250,000 bond.

Bryant, 59, was indicted last week on fraud, corruption and pension-padding charges. Gallagher is charged with fraud.

The charges against Bryant stem from his employment at the state-run University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and at two other publicly funded agencies and institutions. Essentially, Bryant is charged with doing little to no work at those jobs, which also nearly tripled the value of his public pension.

The Bryant investigation widened in recent weeks as prosecutors, seeking to find out whether other lawmakers had personally benefited from public funds, dropped subpoenas on the governor's office, Assembly and Senate leaders, and a number of individual legislators.

The investigation has had a ripple effect in Trenton, with legislators on both sides of the aisle calling for reform and vowing to clean up the budget process.

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