Prosecutors argue against prison time for New Jersey 'Bridgegate' mastermind

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 12, 2017

Wildstein, 55, admitted overseeing a scheme to shut down access lanes at the busy George Washington Bridge in 2013 to create massive traffic gridlock as punishment for a local Democratic mayor who refused to endorse Christie's reelection campaign.

Former federal prosecutor Robert Mintz is not surprised.

Wildstein testified he used his position at the Port Authority of NY and New Jersey to lead a scheme to close lanes near the bridge to create massive gridlock in Fort Lee to punish its Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie, a Republican. Christie wasn't charged in the case.

David Wildstein, who helped the government convict two former Christie associates after he pleaded guilty in 2015, is set to be sentenced in federal court in Newark on Wednesday.

Years later their paths came full circle in the saga known as "Bridgegate", the weird tale of traffic-jams-as-political-payback that took aback even hardened observers of New Jersey's bare-knuckle political arena.

"Put simply, were it not for Wildstein's decision to cooperate and disclose the true nature of the lane reductions, there likely would have been no prosecutions related to the bridge scheme", US prosecutors wrote in arguing that Wildstein should receive probation but no prison time.

Kelly and Baroni were sentenced to 18 and 24 months in prison, respectively, in March. Christie, who claimed the two weren't friends in high school, approved hiring him to a position at the Port Authority ostensibly overseeing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects in the NY area. They remain free on bail while they appeal their convictions. Wildstein was considered Christie's "enforcer" at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates the bridge. But the fallout dogged his bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 and has contributed to his current record-low approval rating of 15 percent in New Jersey.

Wildstein and both defendants contradicted Christie's account that he didn't know about the traffic jams or their objective until months afterward.

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