Former Christie allies Bridget Kelly, Bill Baroni convicted in Bridge-Gate trial

Christie allies seek new trial, say jury acted improperly

Christie allies seek new trial, say jury acted improperly (11/4/16)

NEWARK - Two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie have been convicted in a plot to use traffic jams for political retaliation.

Bridget Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority, were found guilty Friday of all counts against them.

Kelly and Baroni were convicted of scheming with former Christie ally David Wildstein to punish Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie when he ran for re-election in 2013. Wildstein pleaded guilty for his role in the case.

The governor has denied any knowledge of the plot. But Kelly, Baroni and Wildstein all testified that Gov. Christie was informed about the lane closings either before or while they were going on.

Gov. Christie issued a statement following the verdict that said in part, “I’m saddened by this case and I’m saddened about the choices made by Bill Baroni, Bridget Kelly and David Wildstein… But let me be clear once again, I had no knowledge prior to or during these lane realignments, and had no role in authorizing them.”

But some New Jersey lawmakers are now calling for another investigation into the governor and the lane closures. 

Assemblyman John Wisniewski said in a statement Friday that a special committee that looked into the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures should be reopened. He says that the testimony during the trial raised questions about what Christie knew and when he knew it.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto says that the trial raised questions about the administration's behavior and that he will talk to colleagues about possible next steps.

Kelly and Baroni’s defense attorneys say they will appeal the conviction, likely on the basis of the motive that the judge instructed the jury on.

Judge Susan Wigenton previously ruled that the jury did not have to consider why the defendants helped shut down the access lanes in order come up with a conviction. Kelly’s defense attorney Michael Critchley accused the judge of directing a guilty verdict for the defendants.

Sentencing for the defendants is set for Feb. 21, 2017.

The U.S. Attorney says that he is pushing for two years in prison.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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