State legislators like disgraced former Sen. Wayne Bryant had their way with millions in taxpayer-supported property relief money, according to testimony in Mr. Bryant’s trial in Trenton today, as reported by The Star-Ledger.
Known as the Property Tax Assistance and Community Development grant program, the fund was doled out with little oversight directly to several state legislators for use on projects they personally deemed important, a state budget officer said today.
Mr. Bryant, formerly one of the state’s most powerful legislators, was given $4 million in funds from the program, according to The Star-Ledger’s report.
Mr. Bryant is now on trial for of bribery and mail fraud charges, alleging that he used his office and position as chair of the powerful Senate Budget Committee to steer millions in taxpayer dollars to various entities, in return for no-show jobs and other perks.
Today’s testimony reported by The Star-Ledger contradicts statements from state officials, who have said previously that where the program’s money went was based on applications and a formal process, rather than the will of powerful New Jersey politicos.
Mr. Bryant has connections to Trenton’s political establishment, having been a political ally of former local legislator John Watson, his son William Watson, and Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer.
The city, under Mayor Palmer, even admitted unlawfully steering hundreds of thousands of city dollars to Mr. Bryant’s firm in the early 1990s through a scheme that paid Mr. Bryant money for legal work on city bond activity with out a fee schedule or guidelines.