Report: New Bridge-gate Probe 'Really Focused on Christie'

Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 06:34 PM

By Cathy Burke

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says his Bridge-gate scandal woes are over, but a federal prosecutor is stepping up a probe of traffic lane closures that allegedly were used as political payback last September and "is really focused on Christie," Esquire magazine reported Thursday.

U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman has empaneled a second grand jury and the Justice Department has dispatched lawyers and FBI agents to help work the case, the magazine reports.

"But Fishman is really focused on Christie," one source told the magazine. "Ultimately, he believes he'll get to the governor."

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Ultimate criminal charges could relate to the diversion of Port Authority money to fund New Jersey road and bridge projects, as well as the four-day rush-hour closures of George Washington Bridge lanes in Ft. Lee, Esquire reported.

The prosecutor is also eyeing real-estate deals orchestrated by Christie's Port Authority appointee David Samson. Esquire noted one such deal included a Hoboken, N.J.,  office-tower development that was used to pressure the city's mayor for his approval, or jeopardize Hurricane Sandy relief money, Esquire noted.

Other Christie appointees to the Port Authority, including former PA Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, all face "near-certain indictment," Esquire reported, as is the governor's former chief counsel, Charlie McKenna.

"Don't underestimate what Wildstein has on Christie," Esquire quoted one source saying. "And Wildstein and Baroni have both turned on Samson. If Samson doesn't give Fishman Christie, Samson is toast."

But, the magazine reported, the question remains if Samson would turn on Christie.

"They've got him cold," one source told the magazine. "He got sloppy, arrogant, and greedy. Samson will want a deal. This way, he'd get one or two years. He'd have a future on the other side. He won't want to die in jail."

Christie has repeatedly denied any prior knowledge of political payback fueling the lane closures.

Just five days ago, Christie declared the scandal was "over, it's done with and I'm moving on," The Washington Post reported.

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