Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal of 'Bridgegate' case

David Madden
June 28, 2019 - 9:57 am
Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni

Julio Cortez/AP, file

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UPDATED: 4:35 p.m.

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NEW JERSEY (KYW Newsradio/AP) — The "Bridgegate" scandal may not be over just yet.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal filed by two aides to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who were both convicted in New Jersey's "Bridgegate" scandal.

The justices said Friday they would hear a case this fall involving Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni. They were convicted in 2016 of fraud and civil rights violations for realigning the lanes to the George Washington Bridge without telling local officials. The realignment was done to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for not endorsing Republican Christie in 2013.

A jury ultimately convicted both Kelly and Baroni on all counts. An appeals court threw out their civil rights convictions last fall but upheld the fraud counts.

The justices will consider the pair’s contention that federal prosecutors used laws against them that would not have otherwise been pursued. 

Baroni, who was the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is already doing his 18 months in prison. Kelly, who served as Christie's deputy chief of staff, is just shy of starting her 13-month term. 

Federal authorities never charged the former governor, though Kelly has blamed her current situation on Christie. 

The case grabbed headlines in early 2014 after an email from Kelly saying "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" surfaced in news reports. Christie, then considered a rising potential presidential candidate for the GOP, responded by firing those involved and denying any wrongdoing. 

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The pair claimed the 2013 lane realignment of the bridge, which connects New Jersey to New York City over the Hudson River, was part of a traffic study. The result was days of gridlock in the New Jersey town of Fort Lee just as the school year was about to begin and months ahead of Christie's re-election.

The subsequent scandal dragged down Christie's 2016 presidential hopes, with then-candidate Donald Trump saying at one point during the campaigned that Christie knew about the closure — something the governor has denied.

Christie on Friday said on ABC that he has always thought a crime was never committed. He also criticized the prosecution for bringing the case.

"I've always said that that prosecution was a politically motivated, politically vindictive prosecution, that there was no federal crime there," Christie said.

Baroni's attorney Michael Levy said in a statement that he is also grateful and confident that the court will find the pair committed no crime. Kelly also said in a statement that she was grateful to the court for taking up her case and hopeful that it would let "the truth come out." 

Kelly was set to report to prison on July 10, though it's unclear whether the high court's decision would affect that.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. © Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.