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Christie police friend under review in GW Bridge probe

Feb. 18, 2014 at 2:04 AM   |   Comments

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JERSEY CITY, N.J., Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A police lieutenant close to Gov. Chris Christie is being probed for allegedly driving to a gridlocked New Jersey bridge with the official who closed the lanes.

Lt. Thomas "Chip" Michaels' status at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is "under review," said a Port Authority spokesman quoted by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye ordered the agency's police chief to investigate the Michaels' actions during the Sept. 9-13 closures of lanes leading to the New York-bound toll plaza entrance to the George Washington Bridge after MSNBC reported David Wildstein, who ordered the lanes closed, exchanged text messages with Michaels about when Michaels would pick him up to take him to see the traffic congestion on the first day of the closures.

No names were used in the text messages, but MSNBC identified Michaels as communicating with Wildstein by the messages' time of day -- starting at 7:09 a.m. -- and pointing to an e-mail Wildstein sent to a Port Authority official at 7:28 a.m. saying he was "going to take a ride with chip and see how it looks."

"Chip" is Michael's nickname.

The person who exchanged text messages with Wildstein agreed to pick him up "around 7:30 a.m."

Michaels is a 15-year veteran of the Port Authority Police Department and a member of its George Washington Bridge unit.

He is also the brother of Jeff Michaels, a Republican lobbyist who served as a campaign adviser to Christie in 2009, the Inquirer said.

Thomas Michaels grew up with Christie and coached one of Christie's sons in hockey, a 2010 story in the Star-Ledger of Newark said.

Wildstein, who resigned in December, was the first of several Port Authority and Christie administration officials to lose their jobs amid investigations by the state Legislature, the U.S. attorney's office and the Port Authority.

"The governor has never had any conversations with either Jeff or Chip Michaels on this topic," Christie spokesman Colin Reed said in a statement Monday.

Neither of the Michaels brothers could be reached for comment, the Star-Ledger said.

Christie has consistently said he played no role in any plot to jam traffic and insists he did not even know about the lane closures until they were over.

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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