TRENTON - Federal investigators have subpoenaed financial records from the state Department of Children and Families and the Office of Legislative Services as part of a growing investigation of State Sen. Wayne Bryant, the former chairman of the powerful Senate budget committee.
Children and Families spokeswoman Mary Helen Cervantes confirmed yesterday that the department had received a subpoena Oct. 6, seeking information dating to 2000. The subpoena, Cervantes said, demands documentation regarding state money given to Bryant's onetime employer, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and the school's NJCARES child-abuse treatment program.
Investigators also are seeking records relating to contact between the influential Camden County Democrat and state child-welfare officials about UMDNJ funding, Cervantes said.
Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services, which provides support to the State Legislature and acts as its legal arm, was served with a separate subpoena last week, according to Statehouse sources.
The subpoena demands documents, from 2001 to the present, relating to funding for several public agencies and institutions that have employed Bryant or his law firm, Zeller & Bryant of Cherry Hill.
Investigators specifically demanded budget records pertaining to UMDNJ, the Camden Redevelopment Agency, Rutgers School of Law in Camden, and the Delaware River and Bay Authority, one source said.
Bryant did not return messages left at his legislative and legal offices yesterday afternoon. Aides said he was on vacation all week.
The subpoenas are part of a federal investigation that has widened considerably since a federal monitor last month blasted Bryant's employment at UMDNJ as a sham. Herbert Stern, a former federal judge appointed by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie to investigate abuses at the scandal-ridden school, concluded that Bryant did "little to no work" in the part-time "program support coordinator" position that was created for him in March 2003 and that he left in January. What the senator was really hired for, Stern said, was to use his "political juice" as chairman of the powerful Senate Budget Appropriations Committee to steer millions of dollars in extra state aid to the school.
Bryant, who has called the allegations "inaccurate," stepped down from the budget panel shortly afterward.
State and federal investigators, meanwhile, have descended, demanding documents tied to his employment with various other public agencies and institutions.
Subpoenas have been served on UMDNJ; Rutgers, where Bryant was an adjunct professor until this spring; the Gloucester County Board of Social Services, where he serves as counsel; and the Camden Redevelopment Agency, which granted more than $300,000 in legal work to Bryant's firm as part of a $175 million state program championed by the senator to resuscitate the depressed city.