Government

Baroni Indicted In Bridgegate Scandal, Wildstein Pleads Guilty

2226e92e9b1173ed3d9a_Bill_Baroni.jpg
Credits: File Photo
2226e92e9b1173ed3d9a_Bill_Baroni.jpg

NEWARK, NJ – Former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Deputy Executive Director, and former state legislator, Bill Baroni, was indicted by a federal Grand Jury last week with Gov. Chris Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly for their alleged roles in the “Bridgegate” scandal, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in Newark.

According to the April 23 indictment, which was released Friday, the pair are each facing nine counts including conspiracy, misuse of government property and civil rights violations.

A third member of the alleged conspiracy, Port Authority Director of Interstate Capital Projects, David Wildstein, pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to two counts of conspiracy for his part in the scheme to allegedly punish Democratic Fort Lee Borough Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing the Republican governor’s re-election bid.

Sign Up for E-News

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, along with Inspector General Michael Nestor of the Port Authority, Office of Inspector General, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel, Newark Division announced the charges.

“Public officials must use government resources for proper government purposes,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said in the release. “The indictment alleges, and Wildstein admitted, that the three defendants used Port Authority resources to exact political retribution against a public official who would not endorse the Governor for re-election, and concocted and promoted a bogus cover story to execute their plan and to cover their tracks.”

In the multi-page indictment of Baroni and Kelly, investigators allege that the three devised a plan to “leverage” lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as political payback for Mayor Sokolich not backing Christie in the 2013 election.

About two dozen Democratic mayors endorsed Christie instead of Democratic challenger Barbara Buono.

Christie won the election with 60 percent of the vote.

According to the document, the three worked to close access lanes to the bridge for several mornings in September 2013, causing a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, then ignored pleas by Mayor Sokolich to address the situation.

They then, according to the indictment, conspired to cover the action up by labeling it a “traffic safety study.”

A series of emails and phone texts released in December, after the election, allegedly show the methodology and intent to purposely close the lanes as retribution, officials said.

“These high level government officials misused the Port Authority, its employees, and their public positions for political purposes with total disregard of the negative consequences it would have on the public and Port Authority,” Inspector General Nestor said. “This case should serve as a wake-up call and warning to those public servants who might consider abusing their official positions for their personal benefit, or the benefit of others.”

Baroni and Kelly are each charged with conspiring to misuse, and actually misusing, property of an organization receiving federal benefits; conspiring to commit, and actually committing, wire fraud; conspiring to injure and oppress certain individuals’ civil rights, and acting under color of law to deprive certain individuals of their civil rights, according to the release.

Kelley maintained her innocence during a televised statement Friday even as Wildstein pleaded guilty.

“I am sad and disturbed,” State Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-14, said in a telephone interview.

Sen. Greenstein, who represents the 14th district in Middlesex and Mercer counties, won the seat after Baroni vacated it in February 2010 when Gov. Christie appointed him to the position at the Port Authority.

Baroni and Greenstein worked together in the assembly prior to that when the district included South Brunswick, and said they worked well on policy issues even though they were in opposing parties.

“Bill is very politically savvy and extremely intelligent,” she said. “I don’t know how he could get involved in something like this.”

Sen. Greenstein said she had not yet read the indictment.

If convicted, both Baroni and Kelly could face up to 20 years in prison and fines up to around $2 million, according to the release.

“William Baroni, Bridget Anne Kelly, and David Wildstein were held to a high standard of conduct due to the power they were entrusted with by the public,” Special Agent in Charge Frankel said. “These individuals breached that trust and as a consequence should be held accountable.”

An investigation ordered by Gov. Christie found that he had no knowledge, or any part in the scandal, a finding he affirmed in a statement Friday.

“Today's charges make clear that what I've said from day one is true, I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act. The moment I first learned of this unacceptable behavior I took action, firing staff believed to be accountable, calling for an outside investigation and agreeing to fully cooperate with all appropriate investigations, which I have done. Now 15 months later it is time to let the justice system do its job.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield

The Athlete of the Week Joe Sacco Wrestling

The South Plainfield Wrestling Team finished their dual meet season with a deceiving 20-7 record.  This past week saw the Tigers defeat Ewing (69-4), Bordentown Regional (49-9), and Ocean Township (54-6) to win the Central Jersey Group III Sectional Championship.  This advanced South Plainfield to the Group III State Championships yet again.  The wrestling team defeated Voorhees ...

The Athlete of the Week: Alyzah Ziga Co-ed Swimming

This past week South Plainfield’s Co-ed Swim Team finished their season.  The team was competitive in most meets, many times competing against bigger schools.  Junior Alyzah Ziga was an integral part of the Tiger’s Swim Team.

On Friday 2/2, Alyzah scored a total of 8 points against Linden with a 1st place in the 200 Individual Medley with a time of 2:29.55 and in 1st ...

Obituaries

South Plainfield - Mary E. Ridilla, 96,  passed away on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at the ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

South Plainfield Middle School Student Council Thanks Supporters

February 21, 2018

The South Plainfield Middle School Student Council would like to express our thanks for the support of local businesses and organizations in our fundraising efforts.  A spaghetti dinner was hosted by the South Plainfield Elks Lodge #2298 on January 13th.  Mrs. Sharon Reuter and members of her Youth Committee and kitchen crew provided dinner for family, friends and staff of South ...

South Plainfield Residents  Named to Fall 2017 Dean's List at Seton Hall University

February 13, 2018

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- Seton Hall University is pleased to announce the following students who qualified for Fall 2017 Dean's list and to congratulate them for their outstanding academic achievements:

Brooke Barry, Lindsay Celentano, Cj Dudek, Kaitlyn Faustini, Christopher McNeil,  Meagan Praul,  

Kyle Russell, Matthew Taco Bravo and Tomasz ...

Community Happenings

Pre-Ticket Sale for Holy Savior Academy’s 4th Annual Spring Splendor Tricky Tray

February 7, 2018

Holy Savior Academy is hosting its Spring Splendor Tricky Tray Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the school.  Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are limited and will be sold at Holy Savior Academy, 149 South Plainfield Avenue, South Plainfield on Friday, February 9, 2016 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. (cash or checks)

BYOB and food- Admission $ 25 per person includes:  ...

Volleyball Fundraiser for the Eggert Family on March 11, 2018

February 18, 2018

WHAT:

Two divisions, Co-Ed High School and Co-Ed adult

Guaranteed two games per team

Double Elimination

8 people per team

 

COST:

High School teams = $50 per team

Adult Teams = $100 per team

12 Teams Max for each division

Please mail checks to 1107 Worth Drive, South Plainfield NJ 07080

High school - please submit your teams and payment to Justin ...

Holy Savior Academy hosts appreciation luncheon for Deanery Pastors

February 16, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The students and Board of Limited Jurisdiction of Holy Savior Academy (HSA), South Plainfield hosted a special luncheon to honor and celebrate the Pastors of twelve local Catholic churches that sponsor the school.  

The event was held at HSA on Tuesday February 13 and included a festive lunch featuring a home-cooked meal prepared by members of ...

Holy Savior Academy Cheer Competition

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Holy Savior Academy’s cheerleading squad is on winning streak.  Competing at the Biddy Level in the CCCANJ League, the girls took 1st place in the first two competitions of this cheer season. The 12 girl squad competed in the Immaculate Conception and the St. Mary’s competitions and came out on top beating fellow Catholic Schools, Immaculate ...

Bios, Photos of Past Labor Day Grand Marshals Needed for Eagle Scout Project

February 21, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Joseph Kelly, a senior at South Plainfield High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 207, is seeking the community’s help to see his Eagle Scout project come to fruition.

Kelly is looking to compile a ‘wall of fame’ honoring the men and women who have served as honorary grand marshals of the borough’s Labor Day Parade since 1961. The ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_2016772e51de2589b65e_lenten_dinners

Fri, February 23, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

The Sacred Heart Lenten Fish Dinners

Carousel_image_160974dbc9379a0238f6_meet_the_mayor

Sat, February 24, 8:00 AM

South Plainfield

Meet the Mayor at the Senior Center

Carousel_image_01278d9d6764037b0a59_children_s_march_flyer-page-001

Sat, February 24, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

The Children’s March being shown at the South ...

Sat, February 24, 4:00 PM

American Legion, South Plainfield

Boy Scout Troop 207 Spaghetti Dinner

Food & Drink

Carousel_image_4d7f13f1bac1e8a84adb_races_flyer_4-page-001

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

South Plainfield

Night at the Races - Tricky Tray

Carousel_image_5a8b641c938a30a61d34_img_2324

Sun, February 25, 1:00 PM

South Plainfield

Open House 171 New York Avenue South Plainfield

Real Estate

Columns

Diegnan Bill Allowing Municipalities To Authorize Parking Authorities As Redevelopment Entity Now Law

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick Diegnan to allow municipalities to authorize a parking authority as a redevelopment entity is now law.

“We know that smart redevelopment can help to revitalize areas within a town or city, but we have to make sure that municipalities have the flexibility to undertake projects in the most effective way,” said ...

South Plainfield: A Heart for Giving

South Plainfield received over two inches of rain this past weekend. Fortunately, Mother Nature has cooperated, and the precipitation was not of the frozen variety. Despite the rain, nothing could put a damper on South Plainfield’s spirit of helping those in need.

On Saturday a few Borough employees and I had the opportunity to deliver funds that have been raised for a family that has ...

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper with Danny Pellegrino (St. Martin's Press, 2017)

It's hard to go on a serious diet, one on which you expect to be successful and maintain a loss. Fortunately, in his new book Super Carb Diet, Bob Harper has given the weight watching world a sensible new diet plan to help achieve a healthy weight.

Harper, host of NBC's popular show The Biggest Loser, ...

Bookmarks

What, February is nearly over already?  No doubt you were just getting used to it.  So, before March arrives like the proverbial lion, let’s look at upcoming events at South Plainfield Library:

            With a couple of additions and one cancellation, we’ve got a usual slate of children’s programs next ...

Press Releases

John Kormendy - First Exalted Ruler Honored

February 21, 2018

Recently the South Plainfield Elks Lodge #2298 gathered together to celebrate and honor John Kormendy.

After more than 60 years in the area, he has decided to relocate to Michigan to be closer to his daughter.

Mr. Kormendy was one of the founding members and our first Exalted Ruler.  For the past  55 years the

Lodge has been in South Plainfield, he has been very active in many ...