Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Judge won't let ex-Christie aides out of GWB trial

Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni lose attempt to have 'bridgegate' case charges dismissed 
A federal judge has rejected arguments made by two former allies of Governor Christie seeking dismissal of charges related to their alleged roles in the politically-motivated closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge.

Paul Berger reports in The Record:

Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and his former top executive appointee at the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, were indicted last year on charges of conspiracy, fraud and civil rights violations related to the bridge lane closures.

The pair were accused of creating massive traffic jams in Fort Lee over four mornings in September 2013 to punish the town’s mayor for not endorsing the Governor’s re-election.

Their attorneys claimed that prosecutors twisted and stretched federal laws to build a high-profile case. They said that the pair could not have known that their actions would ever be construed as illegal.

In a ruling published Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton dismissed the defendants’ claims.

“If true, the facts do not allege a mistake or a misunderstanding of policies or rules,” Wigenton wrote, “but rather an intentional desire to subvert existing policies and/or practices in order to achieve an improper end.”

Wigenton also dismissed claims made by Baroni’s attorney that Baroni’s testimony before a state legislative committee was improperly used by prosecutors.

“Because Baroni was not under oath when he appeared before the Committee, his testimony is not immunized,” Wigenton wrote.

The trial is due to begin in Newark on Sept. 12.

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