Two former top allies to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) are expected to be indicted on Friday on unspecified criminal charges related to the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal.
The two ex-allies are Bill Baroni, a former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Christie’s former deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, Bridget Anne Kelly.
Additionally, another former Christie ally and official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty to criminal charges relating to lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. In court on Friday, in response to questions from a judge, Wildstein admitted to conspiring with Baroni and Kelly to order the closures to “punish” one of Christie’s political rivals. Wildstein also admitted to attempting to cover up the scheme.
The charges all stem from four days of lane closures on the George Washington Bridge that occurred in September 2013. Both Baroni and Wildstein were appointed to their positions at the Port Authority by Christie. The agency oversees the bridge. Some Democrats have alleged the closures were ordered as retaliation against Fort Lee, New Jersey Mayor Mark Sokolich, who declined to endorse Christie’s 2013 re-election bid. The closures led to days of gridlock and delayed emergency responses in Fort Lee, which is located at the base of the bridge.
Christie has repeatedly denied having any involvement in the lane closures. An internal review conducted by lawyers hired by Christie’s office found Wildstein and Kelly were the only two officials who “knowingly participated” in a scheme to hurt Sokolich by ordering the lane closures.
Lawyers for Kelly and Wildstein did not respond to requests for comment from Business Insider on this story. Baroni and the governor’s office also did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Wildstein is a former high school classmate and longtime associate of Christie. As part of his plea agreement, he faces a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years and fines.
Last January, a special investigative committee in the New Jersey Legislature uncovered an August 13, 2013 email exchange where Wildstein and Kelly discussed Fort Lee.
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote to Wildstein.
“Got it,” Wildstein replied.
Wildstein and Baroni resigned from their positions at the Port Authority in December 2013 as questions about the lane closures mounted. Christie fired Kelly last January after her email exchange with Wildstein was revealed.
In spite of Christie’s insistence that he had nothing to with the scandal, it has cast a large shadow on his widely expected 2016 White House bid. Wildstein’s attorney, Alan Zegas, has previously indicated his client may have information implicating the governor.
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