Sunday, May 3, 2015

Bridgegate: Christie Cronies Kelly, Baroni and Wildstein Indicted

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Federal prosecutors have indicted three of Chris Christie's cronies in the Bridgegate scandal: David Wildstein and Bill Baroni who were appointed by Christie to the Port Authority, and Bridget Ann Kelly, one of Christie's underlings in the Governor's office.

Wildstein is cooperating with Federal Prosecutors and is not expected to serve a long sentence in exchange for information. Baroni and Kelly are still holding out that they didn't conspire with Wildstein or Christie himself to close the George Washington Bridge on the first day of school in September in order to punish mayor of Fort Lee, NJ (a Democrat) for refusing to back Governor Christie in his election.

Originally, the trio and others in the Governor's inner circle swore that there was a "traffic study" to blame for the lane closures, but that was a bogus claim. On the first day of the closure, Kelly herself wrote to Wildstein in a now-infamous email which stated "Time for a few traffic problems in Fort Lee." Traffic was so snarled that some first responders and emergency vehicles were delayed in getting to places where people needed help. It is speculated that Federal Prosecutors are are involved because the Port Authority is shared by New York City, and blocking such a major thoroughfare in or out of New York is considered a danger to Homeland Security.

View David Wildstein's Plea Agreement Here
View Baroni-Kelly Indictment Here via NYTimes

In emails previously made public, Kelly appeared to give the go-ahead for the lane closures on Aug. 13, 2013, when she wrote: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” and Wildstein replied, “Got it.” Later emails showed what appeared to be an indifference to the plight of borough children stuck in the massive traffic jam on their way to school.
. . . “Is it wrong that I’m smiling,” Kelly wrote, later adding that “I feel badly about the kids. … I guess.” Wildstein responded dismissively that “they are the children of Buono voters.” After Sokolich sent a text message to Baroni complaining that children were late getting to school, Kelly emailed Wildstein: “Bottom line is he didn’t say safety.”
. . . Prosecutors said the plan wasn’t put into effect until Sept. 9, the first day of school, to “intensify Mayor Sokolich’s punishment,” and that the idea to push it back came from Baroni, who had “recommended against implementing the plan in August when travel was traditionally lighter and the punitive impact would be lessened.”

This week Bridget Kelly made a public statement pleading innocence:

"I am not guilty of the crimes for which I have been accused," Kelly said during a press conference with her attorney, Michael Critchley, after prosecutors unsealed a federal indictment. . . . "David Wildstein is a liar," Kelly said.

Baroni did not speak, but his attorney made a statement also labeling Wildstein a "Liar" who led his client astray with false "traffic study" documents:
. . . one of Baroni's attorneys, Michael Baldassare, asserted that Wildstein provided him with scores of documents that "would lead anyone to believe" that a legitimate traffic study was being conducted.
"No one disputes that David Wildstein is a criminal and a liar," Baldessare said during a news conference Friday afternoon outside the courthouse. "If David Wildstein was willing to repeatedly lie to settle a petty political grudge, no one should be surprised at his eagerness to concoct any story he thinks will help him stay out of federal prison."

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