The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the criminal conviction of Senator Wayne Bryant for corruption. As a result of his conviction, Bryant was sentenced to four years in prison.
As reported in the CourierPostOnline.com:
PHILADELPHIA — A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the conviction of Wayne Bryant, a former South Jersey legislator now serving a four-year prison term for corruption.
The unanimous ruling also said Bryant, a former state senator from Lawnside, and co-defendant R. Michael Gallagher of Haddonfield remain responsible for joint restitution of $113,000. The unanimous ruling also upheld Gallagher’s conviction.
The two men were convicted of fraud and other charges in November 2008. A jury found Bryant had taken a low-show, pension-padding job at a Stratford medical school, then steered state aid to the institution.
Bryant, once among the most powerful members of Camden County’s Democratic machine, headed the Senate’s Appropriations Committee during most of the time the scheme took place.
Prosecutors said he directed some $10 million in aid over three years to the School of Osteopathic Medicine of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Attorneys for the two men expressed disappointment at the ruling.
“Nobody’s happy about it,” said Carl Poplar, a Cherry Hill attorney representing Bryant.
But a lawyer for Gallagher, Jeremy Frey, saw one positive in the 44-page decision. “We are heartened by the (appellate) court’s disapproval of certain of the government’s grand-jury practices,” said Frey.
The defendants’ appeal had argued that prosecutors improperly placed notices on subpoenas to grand-jury witnesses that acted as gag orders. The notices told grand-jury witnesses that “disclosure of the nature and existence of this subpoena could obstruct and impede a criminal investigation (and the U.S. Attorney) requests that you do not disclose the existence of this subpoena.”
Defense attorneys argued that interfered with their access to witnesses during the pretrial period.
The three-judge panel disagreed, saying prosecutors had “requested, but never required witnesses not to disclose the subpoena or the grand jury proceedings.” It noted no witnesses were presented “who claim they would have spoken to the defense but were deterred (by) the government’s nondisclosure requests.”
But the appellate judges also said the nondisclosure notices were “not a good policy and (we) discourage that practice in the future.”
A representative for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for New Jersey could not be reached for comment.
Gallagher has completed his 18-month prison sentence, but Bryant’s term extends until February 2013.
Bryant awaits another trial on charges that he took $192,000 in phony legal fees to help advance controversial redevelopment plans in Camden, Pennsauken and North Jersey’s Meadowlands between 2004 and 2006. A Bergen County attorney, Eric Wisler, is accused of paying that money on behalf of a redeveloper.
Prosecutors have said they want jurors in the upcoming trial to hear about Bryant’s crimes at the Stratford medical school, contending his “prior bad conduct is relevant to show his corrupt and knowing intent.”
Bryant and Wisler have denied wrongdoing. The trial is expected to start in December.