Photo via Michael Vadon/Flickr (CC-BY)
Two top allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie have been found guilty on all counts for illegally closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey's office announced late Friday afternoon.
Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni were indicted in March on nine counts of conspiracy, fraud, and other charges for allegedly conspiring in September 2013 to close the local lanes connecting the George Washington Bridge to Fort Lee, New Jersey, in retaliation against the city's mayor's refusal to endorse Christie for governor.
Kelly served as Christie's deputy chief of state, while Baroni was Christie's appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridges and tunnels in the New York City metro area.David Wildstein, a Port Authority official and Christie ally who pleaded guilty to planning the scheme, testified against Kelly and Baroni as the prosecution's star witness.
Kelly and Baroni claimed they believed the plan to close the lanes was legitimate.
While Christie denied knowledge of the scheme to cause traffic jams around Fort Lee, the so-called Bridgegate scandal helped crater Christie's run in the Republican presidential primary, disqualified him as a running mate for Republican nominee Donald Trump, and effectively eliminates his chance to win a third term as governor.
Christie currently serves as head of Trump's transition committee overseeing plans in the event that the New York real estate developer wins the White House.
Kelly and Baroni's charges carry maximum prison terms as long as 20 years. Sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 21.
Update 11:31am CT, Nov. 4: In a statement, Christie reiterated his denial of knowledge about the “lane realignments” and said he is “saddened” by the actions of his former aides and allies.“Like so many people in New Jersey, I'm saddened by this case and I'm saddened about the choices made by Bill Baroni, Bridget Kelly, and David Wildstein,” Christie said. “Today's verdict does not change this for me.”