By Eric Dixon
NEWARK — Calling the George Washington Bridge “Bridgegate” lane closure plot in September 2013 an “outrageous abuse of power,” an angry federal district judge sentenced two of Governor Chris Christie’s appointees to significant prison time for their roles in the scheme.
Federal district judge Karen Wigenton, sitting in Newark, gave former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director (and also former state senator) Bill Baroni 24 months, while accomplice and former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly got 18 months in successive sentencing hearings in Newark federal district court today.
Both Baroni and Kelly are expected to appeal their convictions last year, and their sentences.
Judge Wigenton remarked that Baroni showed contrition “for the first time” today at sentencing. Nonetheless, she was apparently unswayed by his remarks at sentencing and letters in support, handing the former state legislator the two-year sentence.
As for Kelly, the author of the infamous “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email which became an exhibit for the prosecution at trial, Wigenton said, “I don’t believe you are a victim and I don’t believe you would allow yourself to be a victim.”
Judge Wigenton also was critical of Christie’s Office of the Governor, remarking that the office displayed an attitude of “you’re either with us, or you’re against us.”
Parole has been abolished in the federal system, so defendants convicted and sentenced to imprisonment must serve 85 percent of their sentence.
Bridgegate co-conspirator David Wildstein, the government’s chief witness in the cases against Baroni and Kelly, still awaits sentencing. Another player in the Bridgegate saga, former Port Authority chairman (and former attorney general) David Samson, was recently sentenced in an unrelated criminal case to home confinement at his South Carolina horse farm, 3,500 hours of community service and a $100,000 fine.