Wayne Bryant faces the music

Today is judgment day for one of New Jersey's once most powerful politicians.

Former state Sen. Wayne Bryant could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for his conviction last year on bribery and pension fraud charges.

Ex-State Sen. Wayne Bryant

But it seems unlikely that the 61-year-old Camden County Democrat will get that much time in prison when U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson decides his fate in a Trenton courtroom.

Just last week, Pennsylvania's disgraced former state senator, Vincent Fumo, was sentenced to 55 months in prison. Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James was sentenced a year ago to 27 months in prison. In both cases, prosecutors asked for considerably longer prison terms.

Defense attorneys haven't said publicly how much time they think Bryant deserves. But expect a long list of supporters at his sentencing today to recount a litany of good deeds by Brant in a political career spanning more than 30 years.

Bryant was found guilty of accepting a low-show job with the University of Medicine and Dentistry in exchange for steering $11 million in state funds to the school. Prosecutors say Bryant used the job and others to nearly triple his state pension, while doing little or no work.

His co-defendant R. Michael Gallagher, the school's former dean, was convicted of rigging the hiring process to favor Bryant. He is also scheduled for sentencing today.
The sentences come a day after after 44 politicians and religious leaders were arrested as part of a federal probe that gives new meaning to corruption, even in New Jersey. Among those nabbed in what prosecutors say was an international money laundering and corruption scheme were two New Jersey assemblymen, three mayors, and rabbis hailing from Brooklyn to the Shore.