Ex-Chris Christie Aides Found Guilty in Bridgegate Trial
A jury today found Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie, guilty of conspiring to close bridge lanes as a way to punish a mayor who didn’t endorse Christie for re-election.
Kelly, once Christie’s deputy chief-of-staff, and Baroni, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were each found guilty of intentionally misusing Port Authority resources, wire fraud, conspiracy and violating the rights of the citizens of Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Christie was certain to win re-election, but his team was hoping for a landslide victory in 2013. He courted Democrats around the state to ask for endorsements. One of those mayors was Fort Lee’s Mark Sokolich. The mayor of the 35,000-person borough was wined and dined by Christie, but ultimately did not endorse him.
Kelly then emailed David Wildstein, another Christie ally: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Not long after, lanes that led from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge were closed as part of a phony “traffic study.” Wildstein pleaded guilty last year.
Baroni and Kelly said at trial they were duped by Baroni into thinking the lane closures were a legitimate traffic study. The jury, which took five days to deliberate, apparently didn’t believe them. Sentencing is February 21st. The maximum sentence is 20 years in prison, but federal prosecutors say they’ll be asking for much less.
“Let me be clear once again, I had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them,” Christie said in a statement. “No believable evidence was presented to contradict that fact. … I will set the record straight in the coming days regarding the lies that were told by the media and in the courtroom.”
Christie is the head of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s transition team.
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