Bridgegate Day of Judgment: Prison for Baroni, Kelly

WNYC | March 30, 2017 | Politics
Tears and remorse from co-defendants but judge notes they previously showed little empathy for the people hurt by their scheme

Convicted Bridgegate conspirator Bridget Kelly tearfully told Judge Susan Wigenton in federal court yesterday of her regret for her part in the notorious political payback scheme. “I am sorry if my actions in any way created any harm,” she said.

Her fellow conspirator Bill Baroni also expressed remorse for his part in the closure of traffic lanes at the George Washington Bridge over three years ago as part of a plot to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not supporting Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election bid.

Noting the pair’s previous lack of empathy for those caught up in huge snarl-ups at the GWB as a result of their machinations, Wigenton sentenced Baroni to two years in prison, 500 hours of community service, along with the payment of fines and restitution. Baroni, 45, was deputy executive director at the Port Authority at the time of Bridgegate.

The judge said Baroni had misled a state legislative committee with his statement that the lane closures were part of a legitimate traffic study, and that later he misled the jury at his trial with the same contention. “You clearly knew, and know today, that it was not legitimate,” she said.

Kelly, author of the infamous “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email that prosecutors pinpointed as the order that set the plot in motion, was Christie’s deputy chief of staff; Wigenton sentenced her to 18 months in prison.

“I do believe you got caught up in a culture, an environment, that lost its way,” Wigenton told Kelly.

David Wildstein, who was the government’s star witness and who testified that he plotted with the co-defendants to cause the gridlock, will be sentenced at a later date.

Questions remain over what, if anything, Christie knew about the scheme that eventually helped to scuttle his presidential bid.

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