Bridgegate: Former Christie Ally Bill Baroni Sentenced To 2 Years
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Apr 01, 2017,
Apr 01, 2017, 20:05
Two former allies of Gov. Christie were sentenced Wednesday to prison for their roles in the traffic-jamming lane closures that would morph into a scandal damaging the governor's presidential ambitions.
Former Port Authority of NY and New Jersey Deputy Director William Baroni Jr. was sentenced to 24 months in prison Wednesday for his role in politically motivated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, while co-defendant Bridget Anne Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff for Gov. Christopher J. Christie, was sentenced to 18 months.
In their brief, prosecutors urged U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton not to depart from the 37-to-46-month sentencing range because, in their words, Kelly and Baroni provided "flagrantly false testimony" during the trial.
Kelly, the governor's 44-year-old former chief of staff, provided one of the most damning pieces of evidence in an email she wrote saying: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee".
But the divorced mother of four also maintained her innocence, telling reporters afterwards: "I will not allow myself to be the scapegoat in this case and I look forward to the appeal". Ortiz also said that while the day's proceedings highlighted the positive things Baroni had done prior to his involvement in the Bridgegate case, the sentencing did not reflect that Baroni had been an "exemplary public servant" up until the beginning of Bridgegate and in the years since his indictment.
In addition to the prison terms, Judge Wigenton sentenced the each of the defendants to one year of supervised release. "Without her instructions - "Time for traffic problems in Fort Lee" - the lane reduction would never have taken place".
The commission was rolled out as part of a new office led by Trump's son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner, whose father Christie prosecuted in his former role as USA attorney.
Baroni testified he believed the closures were part of a legitimate traffic study, an explanation that had been relayed to him by Wildstein, the accused mastermind of the incident.
"I let the people in Fort Lee down", Baroni said in federal court in Newark.
A spokesman for Christie, who was not charged, responded after Kelly's testimony in October that he had "no knowledge prior to or during" the lane realignment. Baroni and Kelly, who will remain free on bail while they appeal their convictions, and New Jersey residents deserve to know who else's fingerprints were on the revenge plot.
Cut to: Federal court in Newark, where two Christie flunkies are moving on to something far less auspicious.
She also said she was "embarrassed" about her emails and texts that came to light in the course of the scandal and trial.
The scandal, however, did significant political damage to Christie, who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination a year ago.
Sokolich said Baroni's sentence was fair and he didn't hold any ill feelings.
"But when Bill Baroni was put to the test and made a choice, he chose to abuse his official power".
At the time of the traffic jams, Kelly was Christie's deputy chief of staff and Baroni was his appointee to the Port Authority, overseeing Wildstein as deputy executive director.
Christie has said he did not know about his aides' conspiracy to halt traffic on the bridge, though one of prosecutors' key witnesses testified he told the governor about it and that the governor laughed.
The Democratic New Jersey lawmaker who led a legislative inquiry into the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandals says the sentencing of a former ally of Gov. Chris Christie's is "sad" for the state.
David Wildstein, Baroni's second-in-command at the Port Authority and the man generally regarded as Christie's eyes, ears and enforcer at the agency, testified that it was his idea to use the bridge as a weapon against the mayor of Fort Lee, who had declined to endorse the governor, so that he would "fully understand that life would be more hard for him in the second Christie term than it had been in the first".