||| Andrew Kazmierski | Dreamstime.com |||
The Bridgegate scandal destroyed Chris Christie’s White House ambitions. The New Jersey Governor had two former associates who played a major role in the lane closure scandal. Those two contacts were sentenced to federal prison on Wednesday. One of the associates was identified as Bill Baroni.
The 45-year-old Baroni was the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Baroni was sentenced to two years in federal prison.
The second associate was identified as Bridget Kelly. The 44-year-old was a former deputy chief of staff for Christie. Kelly was sentenced to 1-1/2 years.
The two were found guilty in November of plotting to close down access lanes onto the George Washington Bridge linking New York City and Northern New Jersey.
The George Washington Bridge is believed to be the world’s busiest bridge. The two defendants plotted to close down the bridge for almost a week in 2013 in an act of political revenge.
Reports issued by the prosecutors said the traffic jams caused by the two was intended to punish the Democratic mayor for refusing to back the Christie’s re-election bid.
Christie was not charged. He has denied involvement in the controversial case that has destroyed his national profile. The case has also led to the record-low approval.
The U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in Newark declined to sentence the two to probation rather than prison. The Judge agreed with prosecutors who said that Kelly was not involved as much as Baroni who was New Jersey’s highest-ranking Port Authority official.
The Port Authority oversees operations for the major bridges, ports and airports in the New York City area. The agency is run by officials that are appointed by New Jersey and New York state's governors.
Both defendants expressed remorse as they requested for leniency. Kelly’s attorney emphasized that she is a single mother of four, while Baroni’s lawyer argued that he had a long career in public service. They will be allowed to remain free on bail while they appeal their convictions.
Christie’s bid for the Republican Presidential nomination failed in February 2016. Christie then became one of the loyal supporters of President Donald Trump. And his hopes of getting a post in Trump’s administration didn’t pan out. The New Jersey's term limits have also hindered him from running for re-election. The governor is currently in his second term.