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May 21, 2019

Federal appeals court upholds most convictions against two ex-Christie aides in Bridgegate scandal

November 27, 2018
Bill Baroni, (L) and Bridget Anne Kelly (R), sought to have all their convictions dismissed for the infamous September 2013 government-generated gridlock at the George Washington Bridge. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

Two Christie Administration insiders are likely prison-bound in the Bridgegate scandal after a federal appeals court decision Tuesday upheld the major parts of their convictions.

Bill Baroni, former deputy executive at the Port Authority, and Bridget Anne Kelly, former deputy chief of staff for then-Gov. Chris Christie, sought dismissal of all their guilty verdicts for the infamous September 2013 government-generated gridlock at the George Washington Bridge.

The Philadelphia-based panel instead upheld three of the counts — while dismissing a conviction on civil rights charges linked to the lane closings on the Jersey side of the span.

The two defendants “altered the bridge’s decades-old lane alignment — without authorization and in direct contravention of Port Authority protocol — for the sole purpose of creating gridlock in Fort Lee,” the panel wrote in its 78-age decision.

“(To) execute their scheme, they conscripted 14 Port Authority employees to do sham work in pursuit of no legitimate Port Authority aim.”

There was no immediate comment on the decision from defense attorneys in the case. Kelly, 45, was initially sentenced to 18 months in prison while Baroni, 46, was sentenced to two years, with both free on bail pending their appeals.

Each is expected to be resentenced, with jail time to follow. The defendants had also unsuccessfully sought a mistrial in the prosecution.

The appeals court panel upheld convictions for misapplying property of an organization receiving federal funds, wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy, while dismissing the fourth count.

The most damning evidence in the case came from Kelly’s email account: A missive declaring it was “time for some traffic problems” in Fort Lee, N.J., after the local mayor declined to endorse Christie’s re-election campaign for governor.

The scandal instead led to the implosion of Christie’s presidential campaign and torpedoed his chances of a vice presidential slot with GOP nominee Donald Trump in 2016.

Five witnesses at trial contradicted the governor’s claims that he was blindsided by reports of the political payback and knew nothing about the scheme. One of them, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty and testified for the prosecution in the case.

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