NYT: Bridgegate Indictments Near

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talks with reporters at the National Governors Association convention Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo | Mark Humphrey)

After more than a year of investigation, federal prosecutors in New Jersey are ready to bring indictments in the “Bridgegate” scandal, the New York Times reports.

Hearings by a special investigative committee of the State Legislature and a report by Mr. Christie’s own lawyers provided more questions and contradictions than they did answers to the most basic question: What prompted a deputy chief of staff to the governor, a Republican, to send a note calling for “some traffic problems in Fort Lee”?

People close to the case say prosecutors are likely to bring charges based on a rarely used provision of a fraud statute, under which they would argue that Mr. Christie’s associates used the bridge, or the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs it, for a purpose other than its intended one. In the case of the bridge, the closings were apparently meant to punish Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, a Democrat, after he declined to endorse the governor’s re-election bid in 2013.

What is less certain is whether prosecutors will find crimes in the other ways Mr. Christie used his powers in the service of political ambition. He used Port Authority money to fill holes in his budget; his lieutenants doled out flags and steel from the remnants of the World Trade Center to woo mayors whose endorsements they sought. An office of “intergovernmental affairs” worked to cultivate endorsements, all in the hopes that the governor could use a huge winning margin to argue that he was the Republican most likely to win the White House in 2016.

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Sen. Robert Menendez Indicted for Bribery, Fraud

Courtesy of the Office of Sen. Menendez

Courtesy of the Office of Sen. Menendez

The Associated Press is reporting that Sen. Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Newark. The full indictment is embedded below.

Washington Post:

After a more than two-year investigation, Menendez faces charges for what prosecutors believe were improper efforts by Menendez to help Salomon Melgen, a Florida-based doctor who was also a contributor to Menendez’s campaigns and his longtime friend. Menendez intervened on Melgen’s behalf in a dispute with the federal regulators over Medicare charges and in a bid by Melgen to secure a port security contract in the Dominican Republic.

Menendez would be only the second U.S. senator to face a federal corruption indictment in the last 20 years. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and suggested that any gifts he received from Melgen were part of a close, personal friendship that dates back to the early 1990s.

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Cooper CEO Was “Distraught” Over Critical Report

John Sheridan was troubled by a report criticizing the hospital on the day he died, witnesses say, but family members say work woes wouldn’t have spurred the CEO of the Cooper University Health System to commit murder-suicide.

John and Joyce Sheridan were found dead in their New Jersey home last fall. On Friday, the Somerset County prosecutor officially ruled their deaths a murder-suicide, a conclusion family members vigorously dispute. Read more »

Report: Deaths of Cooper CEO, Wife Ruled a Murder-Suicide

John Sheridan, then-CEO of the Cooper Health System, died with his wife in September.

John Sheridan, then-CEO of the Cooper Health System, died with his wife in September.

The deaths of Cooper CEO John Sheridan and his wife, Joyce, has been ruled a murder suicide, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Prior to his death, John Cooper had led the Camden-based Cooper Health System.

Further details were not immediately available.

But that ruling by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office in New Jersey may not be the final word in the matter. The Inquirer also reports also that the couple’s sons are disputing the findings, as well as aspects of the investigation that led to today’s conclusion.

“The disagreement between the Sheridans’ sons – Mark, Matt, Dan, and Tim – and investigators has centered on whether John Sheridan killed Joyce and then himself, as authorities have long suspected, or whether their deaths were a double-murder by a third party, as the family believes,” the Inquirer reports. The family says “investigators did not process doors to the house for fingerprints and ‘left weapons at the scene for more than a month’ – specifically a fire poker in the couple’s bedroom.”

The Sheridans were found in September by firefighters responding to a blaze at their home. Since the, the case has trickled out in series of details without investigators announcing any firm conclusions until today. The family in November hired its own pathologist to investigate and monitor the official investigation.

These Are the 40 “Hate Groups” in N.J., Says Southern Poverty Law Center

New Jersey Hate Groups

Source: Southern Poverty Law Center.

New Jersey has 40 “hate groups,” the Southern Poverty Law Center says in a new report — good for fourth-most in the country, and part of an East Coast cluster of extremism that includes Pennsylvania (ranked fifth, with 38 such groups) and New York (third, with 44).

New Jersey’s ranking, though, appears to be based mostly on the diffuse membership of the AC Skins, a “racist skinhead” group: SPLC says the group has chapters in 14 cities across the state, accounting for about a third of the total 40 groups said to be based there. Read more »

Gabby Giffords to Lobby for New Gun Laws in Jersey

Gabby Giffords, courtesy her Facebook page.

Gabby Giffords, courtesy her Facebook page.

Gabby Giffords, the former U.S. congresswoman who survived an assassination attempt despite traumatic head wounds, will be in New Jersey today to lobby for tougher gun laws in that state.

Her appearance today is part of a broader two-day swing through Eastern states to encourage action by state legislatures. “If Congress won’t act, then maybe leaders in the states will,” she said in a Tuesday Facebook post. Read more »

N.J. Senate Urges Rejection of Christie-Exxon Settlement

AP-CHRIS-CHRISTIE-PHOTO-MATT-ROURKE-940X540

Last week, we told you about Chris Christie’s $225 deal with Exxon to settle a pollution case in which the energy company was accused of doing nearly $9 billion in pollution damage to the state’s wetlands, marshes, and meadows — a deal that even got Jon Stewart steamed.

Turns out he’s not alone.

The New Jersey Senate on Monday passed a resolution asking a judge to reject that settlement as “grossly inappropriate, improper, and inadequate.” Read more »

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