Ever since former State Sen. Wayne Bryant was indicted last year, federal prosecutors have said that he directed millions of dollars to a public medical school where he was given a "low-show" job.
Yesterday, a guru for the state Office of Legislative Services, which each year helps shepherd the budget into law, explained how that could have happened.
The most direct link between Bryant and the school's budget windfall came in a 2003 memo, shown in court, from the former dean of the School of Osteopathic Medicine. Bryant was given a job at the school a few months before the memo was written.
The memo, sent to Bryant, suggested language for inserting an $800,000 appropriation into the budget for a children's support center at the school.
That language was included in the budget almost verbatim, testified David Rosen, with the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services.
The same year, the school received an additional $2.3 million in what is known as a "carve-out," Rosen said. A carve-out is a line item in a portion of the state budget that specifically directs how that money is to be spent.
Rosen said word of the $2.3 million carve-out was relayed to him from another Office of Legislative Services staff member, not from Bryant. That employee, George LeBlanc, works with the Senate on the budget, Rosen said.
In 2004, a grant program in the state Treasurer's office, known as "the MAC account," was created. The moniker was a play on the name of then-Treasurer John McCormac and also a reference to the ATM machines.
"I guess it's what passes as humor in Trenton," Rosen said.
In that first year, "MAC account" money could not be given to colleges and universities. The next year, Rosen said, schools became eligible upon the request of the Assembly Democrats' budget chief.
In 2005, the osteopathic school received $200,000 from the MAC account.
One of Bryant's attorneys, Carl Poplar, noted that the $800,000 for the children's center had been included in state budgets in years before Bryant was hired at the osteopathic school - including two years when the legislature was controlled by the Republicans.
Bryant, a Democrat, was cochair and then chair of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee between 2003 and 2006, the years he worked at the school.
The cross-examination of Rosen is scheduled to continue on Monday, when the trial resumes.
Bryant did not run for reelection last year after he and R. Michael Gallagher, the osteopathic school's former dean, were indicted.
Bryant was accused of accepting a job at the school in exchange for his influence, then doing little to no work. His $35,000-a-year salary also illegally increased the value of his existing public pension, prosecutors said.
Gallagher has been accused of rigging a hiring process to bring Bryant onto the payroll, then hiding the true nature of their arrangement.