New corruption trial of former N.J. senator begins

The latest corruption trial of former New Jersey Sen. Wayne Bryant is under way in federal district court in Trenton.

The once powerful chairman of the Senate Budget Committee is accused of accepting $192,000 in bribes in exchange for using his influence to help controversial development projects in Camden, Pennsauken and the Meadowlands.

In his opening argument Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Krieger said Bryant used his power to benefit himself at the expense of the people he was elected to serve.

Defense lawyer Henry Klingeman, who called it a “circumstantial” case, maintains the payments were for hiring Bryant’s firm on retainer and were ethical for a sitting lawmaker.

The 64-year-old Bryant is serving a four-year federal prison term following his 2008 conviction for steering state money to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. In return for those grants, Bryant got a job at the school in which he did little or no work.

The current trial is expected to last several weeks.

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