The straight-and-narrow proceedings of federal court took a striking political detour yesterday during a hearing in Camden for six men accused in a terror plot against Fort Dix.

The U.S. district judge presiding over a pretrial hearing for the group known as the “Fort Dix Six” threw sharp words from the bench when shown a campaign flyer being circulated by Republicans vying for state legislative seats in Burlington County.

The flyer, which was entered into evidence because of its potential impact on jurors, implies that Democratic Assembly hopeful Tracy Riley is a terrorist sympathizer.

The reason? Her husband, Michael Riley, is defending one of the men accused in the alleged plot to gun down soldiers at Fort Dix, the Army base in Burlington County. One of the men is expected to enter a guilty plea today.

Judge Robert B. Kugler, who examined the flyer for its impact on potential jurors, did little to conceal his shock.

“Wow,” Kugler said, inspecting the mailer that Riley had handed him. “I had heard this was going on. . . . It’s pretty despicable stuff, honestly.”

The judge did not stop there. He also took aim at one the three GOP candidates endorsed by and pictured on the controversial flyer – an attorney: Dawn Marie Addiego, though he did not mention her by name.

“She should certainly know better than to do things like this,” said Kugler, an independent who was nominated to the district court by President Bush. (MORE)


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