Tags: US | Christie | Traffic Jams

Chris Christie Aides Guilty in Bridge-gate Scandal

Image: Chris Christie Aides Guilty in Bridge-gate Scandal

Friday, 04 Nov 2016 12:35 PM

Two former allies of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were convicted on Friday for their roles in the Bridge-gate lane closure scandal, following a six-week trial that served to further tarnish the Republican's damaged reputation. 

Bridget Kelly, the governor's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were found guilty in Newark federal court on all counts, the U.S. Attorney's office in New Jersey said on Twitter.

Kelly and Baroni were convicted of fraud, conspiracy and depriving the residents of Fort Lee, New Jersey, of their civil rights.

The two officials were accused of shutting down access lanes at the George Washington Bridge in September 2013, creating a massive days-long traffic jam to punish a local mayor for declining to endorse Christie's reelection campaign.

Fort Lee lies at the New Jersey end of the bridge, which carries traffic across the Hudson river to northern Manhattan.

Their co-conspirator, a former Port Authority official and confessed mastermind David Wildstein, pleaded guilty and appeared as the government's star witness, detailing how the three schemed to pay back Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat.

But Wildstein also implicated Christie, saying he and Baroni discussed the lane closures with the governor while they were ongoing. Christie, Wildstein testified, laughed at the notion that Sokolich was frustrated by the traffic.

At the time, Christie was eyeing a presidential run, and his aides believed that securing the backing of Democratic officials would burnish his national reputation, according to trial testimony.

Christie, who has not been charged, has steadfastly denied any knowledge of the scheme, either before or during the closures. Legal experts have said it is unlikely he would face any criminal consequences based on the trial testimony.

But the fallout from the scandal has dogged Christie for three years, helping to scuttle his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Christie is serving as a key adviser to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Testimony at the trial, including from Kelly and Baroni, both of whom took the stand in their defense, laid bare how the Christie administration used the Port Authority to help officials who backed the governor and to hurt those who did not.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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Two former allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were convicted on Friday for their roles in the Bridge-gate lane closure scandal, following a six-week trial that served to further tarnish the Republican's damaged public reputation.
US, Christie, Traffic Jams
373
2016-35-04
Friday, 04 Nov 2016 12:35 PM
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