U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Third Circuit Upholds Bulk of 'Bridgegate' Convictions

It was a really bad idea, they just didn't realize how bad until years later when their convictions were upheld.

Their plan was to close lanes and lock up traffic to make the city look bad. It would be four days of angry commuters stuck on a bridge and revenge against the mayor for not endorsing the governor.

Yeah, that's the ticket. Wait, you put that in an email?!

"It Made No Sense"

That's how the "Bridgegate" story unraveled in United States of America v. Baroni. News outlets discovered incriminating email between three associates of then-Gov. Chris Christie who deliberately fouled up traffic on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.

Bridget Ann Kelly, Bill Baroni, and David Wildstein didn't think it through. Kelly, deputy chief of staff, really blew it in one stunningly sophomoric email:

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," she wrote.

"It was so bizarre. It made no sense," said Chistie spokesman Michael Drewniak at one hearing. "I don't know who to believe, and why they would do such a thing."

Wildstein later testified against his co-conspirators as part of a plea deal, and Kelly and Baroni were convicted on multiple counts. They appealed.

"Sham Traffic Study"

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed most of the convictions, concluding that Kelly and Baroni misused government resources. They also "invented a sham traffic study to usurp that exclusive interest, reallocating the flow of traffic and commandeering public employee time in a manner that made no economic or practical sense," wrote Judge Anthony Scirica.

Kelly faces 18 months; Baroni two years. The former governor was not charged and said at one hearing: "I'm embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team."

Yeah, but how about the people who were stuck on the bridge? Embarrassed and humiliated doesn't quite describe it.

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