Christie Faces New Federal Probe
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been targeted by a new federal probe, multiple outlets are reporting.
“Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as well as members of his administration, a man at the center of the investigation told ABC News. The U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey has interviewed former Hunterdon County Assistant Prosecutor Bennett Barlyn, who claims he was fired because he objected to Christie officials dismissing indictments against political allies of the governor.”
The case centers on exurban/rural Hunterdon County, in western New Jersey along the Delaware River. There, Barlyn claims, then-county Sheriff Deborah Trout ran her office like a private fiefdom, hiring her friends without respect to their experience, and without initiating proper background checks as mandated by state law.
Barlyn’s office began probing Trout in 2008, eventually convening a grand jury that returned 43 indictments against her, Undersheriff Michael Russo and investigator John Falat Jr. The Christie administration then intervened, took over the prosecution and — in an extraordinary step — moved to have the grand jury indictments overturned, saying they were legally and factually deficient. When Barlyn raised objections, he was fired.
The case was first revealed in a 2013 New York Times story.
ABC says the investigation is in its “early stages” and notes that Christie is under an unusual amount of scrutiny. “New Jersey’s U.S. attorney is also investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures scandal that has jeopardized the governor’s political future. The Christie administration is also being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the Port Authority inspector general and a state legislative committee that is part of the Democratic-controlled New Jersey State Legislature.”