News

The latest on traffic jam scandal: Baroni's attorney says Wildstein is a 'habitual liar'

2:35 p.m.

A lawyer for a former Port Authority official charged in a politically motivated lane closure scheme says his client is innocent and is being accused by a political figure who is a habitual liar.

Bill Baroni’s attorney, Michael Baldasarre, told reporters Friday that the accusations against Baroni are false. He says David Wildstein, a former ally of Gov. Chris Christie, lied to a judge about Baroni’s role in the scheme.

Baldasarre says Wildstein also lied to Baroni about a traffic study that prosecutors say was a cover story for the plot.

Wildstein has pleaded guilty.

Baroni and co-defendant Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, will be arraigned Monday at 11 a.m.

Kelly and her lawyer are scheduled to hold a news conference at 4 p.m.

Christie has not been implicated in the scheme.

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1:30 p.m.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says that he is not planning on charging anyone else in a politically motivated lane closure scheme based on the evidence now available to him.

A former ally of Gov. Chris Christie pleaded guilty Friday and two other allies were charged in the scheme to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK’-oh-lich) because he refused to endorse Christie in his re-election bid.

Fishman declined to comment on David Wildstein’s attorney’s statement that there is evidence that exists to establish that Christie knew about the lane closures while they were occurring. Alan Zegas first made those statements in January 2014.

Christie has not been implicated in the scheme.

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1:20 p.m.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says that a guilty plea by a former ally of Gov. Chris Christie gives some answers about what happened with a politically motivated lane closure scheme.

Fishman says David Wildstein plotted with Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2013 to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich (SAHK’-oh-lich) because he refused to endorse Christie in his re-election bid.

Fishman says they deliberately waited until the first day of school in September 2013 to further hurt Fort Lee residents.

Wildstein has pleaded guilty. Kelly and Baroni were charged in an indictment unsealed Friday. Their attorneys plan to comment on their cases Friday afternoon.

Christie has not been implicated in the scheme.

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1 p.m.

Two former allies of Gov. Christie Christie will have more to say now that they’ve been indicted on charges stemming from the 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.

Bridget Kelly has scheduled a news conference in Livingston at 4 p.m. Friday. Kelly will discuss the charges with her lawyer.

Bill Baroni’s lawyer will discuss the indictment following a news conference by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

They are charged with nine counts, including conspiracy and fraud.

Both were implicated in the plot by former Port Authority executive David Wildstein, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Friday. He could face about two years in prison at sentencing Aug. 6.

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12:15 p.m.

Two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie have been indicted on charges related to their alleged role in creating politically motivated traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge in 2013.

An indictment against Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni was unsealed Friday after it was filed on April 23.

Kelly was fired by Christie as his deputy chief of staff after the plot came to light, and Baroni resigned from his job as deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

They are charged with nine counts, including conspiracy and fraud.

Both were implicated in the plot by former Port Authority executive David Wildstein, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges Friday. He could face about two years in prison at sentencing Aug. 6.

An attorney for Baroni says he is reviewing the indictment and will comment later Friday. Kelly’s attorney wasn’t immediately available.

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Noon

The lawyer for a former ally of Gov. Chris Christie who has pleaded guilty for his role in creating traffic jams says more will come out about the case.

David Wildstein’s attorney, Alan Zegas, said Friday that Wildstein deeply regrets his role in the politically motivated lane closures of the George Washington Bridge.

Zegas repeated his statement first made in January 2014 that there is evidence that exists to establish that Christie knew about the lane closures while they were occurring.

Christie has denied any role in the plot and he was not implicated by Wildstein in his guilty plea Friday.

Zegas says that Wildstein has answered thousands of questions from prosecutors and that the government is more than satisfied with his co-operation. He says that investigators are still asking him questions.

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11:45 a.m.

A lawyer for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s former deputy chief of staff says he has been told that she will be indicted.

Michael Critchley told The Associated Press on Friday that Bridget Kelly will be indicted.

Former Christie ally David Wildstein pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts for his role in the scheme Friday and implicated Kelly and fellow Port Authority of New York-New Jersey executive Bill Baroni.

Baroni’s lawyer said earlier Friday that he had not received word on whether his client would be indicted.

Wildstein admitted to causing significant traffic problems in Fort Lee in September 2013 in retaliation against the city’s mayor, who did not endorse Christie’s re-election bid, and to using a traffic study as a cover.

Christie was not implicated in the scheme.

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11:35 a.m.

A former political ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has pleaded guilty for his role in creating traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge in 2013 for political retribution.

Former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein made the admissions in a federal court hearing Friday. He admitted to causing significant traffic problems in Fort Lee in September 2013 in retaliation against the city’s mayor, who did not endorse Christie’s re-election bid, and to using a traffic study as a cover.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark is holding a news conference on the case later Friday.

Revelations about the traffic jams have become a major cloud over the career of Christie, who is considering running for president next year.

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11:30 a.m.

A former ally of Gov. Chris Christie has admitted to his role in politically motivated traffic tie-ups near the George Washington Bridge in 2013.

David Wildstein admitted Friday that he caused traffic problems to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich because he refused to support Christie’s 2013 re-election effort.

Wildstein is co-operating with prosecutors’ investigation of the lane closures and has told a judge he plans to plead guilty.

The former official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey admitted that he talked about how the bridge’s access lanes could be used as leverage against Sokolich with former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and Port Authority executive Bill Baroni.

He says they agreed to ignore communications form Sokolich about the traffic jams.

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11:20 a.m.

Prosecutors say a former ally of Gov. Chris Christie is co-operating with them in their investigation of politically motivated traffic tie-ups near the George Washington Bridge in 2013 as he told a judge he plans to plead guilty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes told U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in a hearing Friday that David Wildstein is co-operating. He waived his right to be indicted.

Wildstein has filed a form with Wigenton seeking to enter a guilty plea. He signed the plea agreement on Jan. 21.

Wingenton says he will be sentenced Friday.

Wingenton says the 53-year-old will be released on a personal recognizance bond of $100,000 and will be required to surrender his passport.

Wildstein was an official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at the time of the tie-ups.

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11:10 a.m.

A former ally of Gov. Chris Christie who is expected to plead guilty for his role in politically motivated traffic tie-ups near the George Washington Bridge in 2013 has entered a courtroom with his attorney.

A person with knowledge of the case says David Wildstein is scheduled to plead guilty Friday morning. The person wasn’t authorized to release the information before the hearing and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Wildstein was an official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at the time of the tie-ups.

He entered the courtroom at the federal courthouse with attorney Alan Zegas.

Wildstein was smiling as he greeted someone in the front row.

—Associated Press writer Josh Cornfield contributed from Trenton, New Jersey.

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9:30 a.m.

Gov. Chris Christie has declined to comment on an expected guilty plea by one of his former political allies in politically motivated traffic tie-ups near the George Washington Bridge in 2013.

A person with knowledge of the case says David Wildstein is scheduled to plead guilty Friday morning. The person wasn’t authorized to release the information before the hearing and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Christie declined to comment Friday morning as he left a hotel in McLean, Virginia, after speaking at a technology breakfast,

Wildstein was an official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at the time of the tie-ups. He arrived at federal court in Newark around 8:45 a.m. Friday with his attorney.

—Associated Press writer Josh Cornfield contributed from Trenton, New Jersey.

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8:45 a.m.

A person with knowledge of the case says a former political ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is scheduled to plead guilty for his role in politically motivated traffic tie-ups near the George Washington Bridge in 2013.

David Wildstein was an official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at the time of the tie-ups. He arrived at federal court in Newark around 8:45 a.m. Friday with his attorney. A court hearing is set for 11 a.m.

The person wasn’t authorized to release the information before the hearing and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. attorney’s office will hold a news conference at 1 p.m.

Two of the three access lanes in Fort Lee to the bridge were closed for four mornings in September 2013, causing jams throughout the streets.

Wildstein resigned months later amid revelations that he ordered lanes closed in Fort Lee for political retribution.

—Associated Press writer Josh Cornfield contributed from Trenton, New Jersey.

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7:30 a.m.

Federal prosecutors have announced a court proceeding involving the 2013 traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge, an investigation that has loomed over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as he considers a presidential run.

An 11 a.m. court hearing is scheduled for Friday, and the U.S. attorney’s office will hold a news conference at 1 p.m.

The office, which Christie led before stepping down in 2008 to run for governor, has not said who will appear in court or any other details.

Two of the three access lanes to the bridge in Fort Lee were shut down for four mornings in September 2013, causing massive delays.

An aide to Christie emailed a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” initiating the shutdowns.