White-Collar Crime

Former Law Firm MP and Ex-NJ State Sen. Arraigned in 'Retainer' Legislative Bribe Case

A former New Jersey state senator was arraigned today in prison garb along with the business-suited former managing partner of a law firm who is reportedly battling cancer and was barely able to walk into the federal court in Newark with the help of his attorney.

Both pleaded not guilty in the political bribery conspiracy case in which attorney Eric Wisler is accused of secretly paying an $8,000-a-month “retainer” to then-senator Wayne Bryant in exchange for favorable action on real estate development matters, the Record reports.

Attorney Michael Critchley, who is defending the former partner of DeCotiis Fitzpatrick Cole and Wisler, says he also plans to seek a court ruling that Wisler is too ill to assist in his own defense. Wisler has colorectal cancer that has spread, forcing the removal of portions of his liver and lungs, Critchley said.

“He’s not physically capable of preparing for trial. Just getting here today for arraignment required a massive effort,” Critchley apparently told the northern New Jersey newspaper after the hearing.

Bryant, who once served as chairman of the state Senate Budget Committee, was sentenced to four years in an earlier federal bribery and fraud case.

Wisler’s former law firm has not been accused of wrongdoing in the case.

Related prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Legislator’s Indictment re Law Firm ‘Retainer’ Fees Spurs Call for Ethics Reform”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.