Thursday, October 13, 2016

Judge finds probable cause in GWB complaint vs. Christie

Salvador Rizzo reports in The Record:

Governor Christie may have broken New Jersey law during the George Washington Bridge lane closures, a municipal court judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Roy F. McGeady of Bergen County found probable cause that Christie engaged in official misconduct during the 2013 lane closures and issued a summons for the governor to appear Oct. 24.  

Probable cause is a relatively low bar in the legal system that allows law enforcement agencies to search, charge or arrest individuals suspected of wrongdoing, but it is not enough to prove guilt.

Christie said through a spokesman that he is appealing the ruling immediately and that the citizen who filed the court complaint against him is “a political activist with a history of abusing the judicial system.”
It is now up to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether to pursue an indictment against Christie. A spokeswoman for acting Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal, a Christie appointee, declined to comment Thursday.

For years, Christie has denied any knowledge of the plot to close Fort Lee access lanes to the world’s busiest bridge. But lawyers for the prosecution and the defense in the ongoing Bridgegate trial have cast doubt on Christie’s assertions.

A former political operative for Christie who plotted the scheme, David Wildstein, testified in federal court that he discussed the lane closures with the governor during a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at Ground Zero, while a massive traffic jam was paralyzing Fort Lee. Christie has said he does not recall Wildstein’s comments.

Wildstein is the main witness for the prosecution and says he is cooperating with U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman’s investigation in part because he hopes to avoid prison.

A former firefighter from Teaneck, Bill Brennan, filed a complaint against Christie in municipal court based on Wildstein’s testimony.

Brennan argues that Christie engaged in official misconduct because he should have reversed the lane closures once he became aware of them. Under state law, official misconduct is punishable by five to 10 years in prison.

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