Talk about batting 1000: Jury convicts Bryant on ALL 12 counts of bribery and fraud

Once in a while there really IS justice in the Soprano State!

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Visit courierpostonline.com/Bryant for full coverage of the trial.

Former state Sen. Wayne Bryant was found guilty of all 12 counts of bribery and pension fraud Tuesday, convictions that could send him to prison for years.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated for over parts of three days before finding the veteran legislator guilty of selling his office for personal gain and inflating his state pension with work he did not perform.

Bryant’s co-defendant, Dr. Michael Gallagher, was found guilty of all but one count of carrying out the bribery scheme with Bryant and also faces prison time.

Attorneys for both men, who contended before the trial began that the prosecution overstepped its bounds in bringing criminal charges in this case.

The case emanated from a part-time job that Bryant obtained at the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, where Gallagher was dean, in 2003.

The government alleged that the ”community outreach” job was phony, mere camouflage for the real reason the school was paying the senator $35,000 a year: To buy his influence in Trenton.

Through testimony and documentation, the office of the U.S Attorney laid out its case that in the years before Bryant joined the payroll at the School of Osteopathic Medicine he secured no money for the school, but in the three years following his hire he steered more than $10 million the school’s way.

His job at the medical school consisted of little more than showing up on Tuesday morning and ”reading the newspapers,” several employees at the school testified.

But as chairman of the powerful Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, the government demonstrated to the jury’s satisfaction, Bryant managed to add $2.3 million to the school’s budget almost immediately and to follow that up with an extra $800,000 for a child support program run by the school and another $200,000 for a program for the elderly.

Read the rest here

Other headlines:

After verdict, Christie calls Bryant ‘disgrace’

Ex-peers say Bryant case shows need for ethics reforms

MORE

Alternative Budget Plan Presented By Republicans Goes Ignored By Trenton Majority

A note from Senator Beck, Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande, Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon

As you may be aware, the New Jersey Legislature passed the State
budget last Monday.

An alternative budget plan presented by Republicans contained over $1
billion in spending cuts, funded transportation and contained none of
the backdoor tax increases in the Governors budget. Unfortunately,
that plan was once again ignored by the majority in Trenton. The
Governor’s budget might look good at first glance- after years of
Republicans calling for lower spending, the budget is about $600
million less than last year. But a closer review of the budget shows
that some of the “spending cuts” are actually tax increases in
disguise, and an opportunity to fund the state’s transportation needs
for the foreseeable future was missed.

Because of those backdoor tax increases and the failure to fund
transportation, we voted against the budget.

One of the “spending cuts” was a decrease in aid to municipalities. In
most cases, if your town gets less money from the state, then they’ll
have to raise your property taxes to make up the difference.

Another of the “spending cuts” was a reduction in the Homestead Rebate
for some and the elimination of it for others. Given that last year we
were told the program was sustainable for the foreseeable future, this
was particularly disappointing, and again, a tax increase for some.

The budget also included the extension of a $62 million energy tax
which was scheduled to expire. At a time when energy costs are
skyrocketing, allowing this tax to expire would have been welcome
relief for many, but it was extended.

When Republicans offered an alternative budget plan in May, a central
part of the plan was to dedicate over $500 million a year to fund the
Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for the major repairs to our
roadways and bridges. This would have eliminated the need for a gas
tax increase, a toll increase or any of the other costly and
controversial plans suggested by the Governor. Unfortunately, this
budget does nothing to address those needs, leaving an opening for the
Governor to bring his toll road scheme back from the dead.

The debate in Trenton has now changed from ‘Can we cut?’ to ‘Where can
we cut?’. That is a victory for all New Jersey taxpayers. There is
still much work to be done, however. The pension reforms we passed on
Monday were a step in the right direction, but not as strong as we
would have preferred. We still need to fund our transportation needs
without a massive toll or tax hike. We still need to monitor the
waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars that sadly continues to this
day.

We will continue to be your voice in Trenton and fight for the reforms
which will stop the exodus of people from New Jersey.

Sincerely,

Senator Jennifer Beck

Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon

12th Legislative District

Tom Fitzsimmons
Communications Director
Legislative District 12

Senator Jennifer Beck
Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon

More Corzine Cosa Nostra: $2 million contract to NYU… Jon Boy sits on the Board, and how dare we question his motives..

From our friends at inthelobby.net

NYU AND CORZINE, PERFECT TOGETHER

You have to give this to the governor.  He is stubborn. He also must keep a ready supply of blinders on hand.

He apparently sees nothing wrong with a New York organization – on whose board he sits, and to whom he contributed $5.7 million – getting a state contract.

In fact, he almost sounds a bit testy that any one would have the audacity to raise any questions about it, telling the Star Ledger that “New Jersey residents should not be ‘prejudiced’ and lose the services of groups simply because of his personal ties.

Don’t you love that? An out-of-state group that he sits on the board with two of his closest friends, and that he donated millions of dollars to gets a $2 million state contract, and somehow we’re “prejudiced” for questioning if there’s conflict of interest.

He also said this to the Ledger: “History and general recognition would say this is a good organization,” he said. He was quick to add,  “some in New Jersey are good organizations.”

Only “some” in New Jersey are good organizations? Hey, thanks for the shout out to the home state governor.

But, to make all of us worrywarts feel better, the gov has promised that his counsel will take a look at the process and make sure it was “transparent and fair play.”

Sure, like a counsel who is appointed by the governor and reports to the governor is going to find anything but.

Did you know that he thinks so much of this New York University Child Study Center that he gave it $2 million to endow a “Corzine family professorship” at the university.

But, no, there’s no conflict of interest here.

His two good friends on the board – Dan and Brooke Garber Neidich (she’s the board chairwoman, by the way) – also gave a total of  $40,000 to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, according to information dug up by Eric Sedler over at redjersey.net, who found that the Neidichs each gave the Democratic State Committee a total of $10,000 in 2005 and 2007, for a total of $40,000, as well as $2,000 each in 1999 and 2001 to Corzine, for a total of $8,000.

So maybe the governor is right. Maybe it is just pure coincidence that:

1)       The governor sits on the board;
2)       Was a founding member of the center;
3)       Gave the center $5.7 million;
4)       Endowed a $2 million Corzine family professorship;
5)       His two very close friends are also on the board, with one being the chairwoman;
6)       His two very close friends are contributors to Democratic causes, and to the New Jersey State Committee and the governor himself;
7)       That the center had to supply the state with a list of board members when they applied for the grant, so the governor’s name and relationship would be well known to those who awarded the contract; and
8)       The center was the only one of 18 applicants not from New Jersey, yet New Jersey state employees decided to bypass 17 in-state organizations and pick the lone applicant from New York.

The governor insists that he had no idea that the center was going for the contract. “Didn’t know it was taking place,” he told the Ledger.

His good friends, we are to assume, didn’t either? Are we also to assume it never came up in conversation? (These friends, by the way, are so close that they were the only people outside family who were permitted to visit the governor in the hospital while he was recuperating, according to the Ledger.)

Are we also to assume none of these board members knew that the center had applied to the state for a $2 million grant? Grants that, by the way, centers like this need in order to stay in business?

Why can’t the governor see that this looks bad? Sometimes, we wonder if he thinks everything he says is so, and therefore, no other explanation is needed.

Except that he doesn’t get to decide what is a conflict and what isn’t.

In a state where corruption and politics too often are linked, the governor needs to be like Caesar’s wife, above reproach.  There may be nothing wrong with giving a New York outfit a $2 million state contract, even as New Jersey is hurting for jobs. Maybe the governor doesn’t have a vested interest in making sure that an organization with a Corzine family professorship succeeds.  Maybe the fact that he sits on their board, and has donated millions to the center, is just a coincidence.

But it sure doesn’t look good. And Corzine, or at least his people, ought to understand that.

Oroho Decries Democrats’ Refusal to Allow ‘Distressed Cities’ Investigation

Senator Steven Oroho (R-24) had this to say after Democrats refused to allow a vote on a resolution granting subpoena power to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee to investigate the “Distressed Cities” program:

“This program has spent an incredible $642 million without any public accounting to the taxpayers. It appears to have been used, and almost certainly was used, as a slush fund for politically connected officials to send money to other politically connected officials.

“The Department of Community Affairs has rebuffed repeated efforts by Senate Republicans to obtain documents detailing how decisions about how this money was spent were made. It’s outrageous that elected senators can be refused these documents. Granting subpoena power is the only justifiable response.

“Senator Buono, chairman of the budget committee, has suggested the state auditor should investigate the program, and I applaud her concern. But what makes anyone think state officials would be any more cooperative with an auditor’s request for documents than with a Senate committee?

“Determining how state money is spent is the job of the Legislature. We should embrace, not shirk, that responsibility. Democrats should join Republicans in demanding a Senate investigation.”