NEW YORK – Two former allies of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were convicted on Friday for their roles in the “Bridgegate” 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 see more article.