Acquittal, New Trial Rejected In NJ Bridge Lane Closing Case
A New Jersey judge has turned down an appeal by two former aides to Republican Governor Chris Christie of their convictions in a plot to cause traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge.
The judge on Wednesday rejected requests by Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni for an acquittal and a new trial.
Both were convicted in November in a 2013 plot to close traffic lanes at the bridge, which links Fort Lee with New York, to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for re-election.
At the time, Kelly was deputy chief of staff to Christie and Baroni was a top Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge.
Christie has denied any prior knowledge of the bridge plot and wasn't charged.
The judge, Kelly's attorney wrote in the appeal, should have instructed jurors that they could have acquitted the defendants if the government didn't prove the alleged conspiracy was aimed at punishing Mayor Mark Sokolich.
The government argued that jurors only had to prove that Baroni and Kelly conspired to misapply the property of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — the bridge — and not the reason they did it.
The judge found evidence introduced at trial was sufficient for a reasonable jury to conclude the defendants understood what they were doing was wrong.
Kelly and Baroni face up to 20 years in prison on the most serious charges when they are sentenced on March 15, but U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said on the day of the verdicts that they likely will receive far less time.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.