NEWARK, N.J., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Two former aids to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were found guilty in court Friday for their role in Bridgegate, a political-payback conspiracy that caused an hours-long gridlock near the George Washington Bridge in 2013.
Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were found guilty of charges that included civil rights deprivation and wire fraud conspiracy, which alone carries a 20-year maximum sentence. The jury took five days to reach a verdict.
Prosecutors said the two former officials plotted to shut down travel lanes on the nation's busiest bridge on Sept. 9, 2013, as retaliation against Fort Lee, N.J.'s Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich, who didn't endorse the Republican governor's re-election campaign.
The decision comes after a six-week trial with 35 witnesses and evidence that included text messages and emails showing Kelly and Baroni had communicated about the revenge plot before and during its implementation. In one email, Kelly told former Port Authority official David Wildstein, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." Wildstein pleaded guilty to his role in May.
Wildstein said Kelly and Baroni chose the first day of school to maximize the traffic problems and to use a traffic study as a "cover story."