Chris Christie's Former Ally Pleads Guilty in Bridgegate Scandal, Two Others Indicted
David Wildstein claims the governor knew about the lane closures as they were happening
Bill Baroni, the former Port Authority deputy executive director, and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, are facing nine counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, including “knowingly converting and intentionally misapplying property of an organization receiving federal benefits,” The New York Times reports.
The two will be arraigned in court on Monday.
Earlier on Friday, Christie’s former ally and high-school classmate David Wildstein pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy in federal court, Politico reports.
The former Port Authority official admitted that he conspired with Baroni and Kelly to close the lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2013 to “punish” Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie’s re-election. He also confessed to using a traffic study as a cover for the closures.
Although Christie, 52, has long denied having any connection to the so-called “Bridgegate scandal,” Wildstein’s lawyer, Alan Zegas, said the governor “knew of the lane closures while they were happening.” Zegas added that more information about the closures would be released soon.
Traffic in Fort Lee was paralyzed in September 2013 when two of the three access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were shut down for four mornings.
In a press conference in Newark on Friday, the United States attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman, confirmed the charges and developments in the ongoing 16-month federal investigation.
Fishman declined to comment on Christie and whether he had any knowledge of the closures.
The governor said in a statement following the press conference, “Today’s charges make clear that what I’ve said from day one is true, I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act. The moment I first learned of this unacceptable behavior I took action, firing staff believed to be accountable, calling for an outside investigation and agreeing to fully cooperate with all appropriate investigations, which I have done. Now 15 months later it is time to let the justice system do its job.”