What to Know
- Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni were convicted on counts including wire fraud, conspiracy and misusing the bridge for improper purposes
- Both Kelly and Baroni had filed briefs arguing they should receive some combination of probation, home confinement and community service
- They were sentenced Wednesday to 18 months and 24 months in prison, respectively
A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie has issued a searing rebuke of a judge's comment at the sentencing of former aide Bridget Kelly that suggested the 44-year-old mother of four got caught up in a misguided work environment.
"We must conclude that the judge's ill-advised remark is based on the perjurious testimony of three convicted felons," spokesman Brian Murray said early Thursday. "The work of the people who have been employed by the governor's office has been honest, honorable, bi-partisan and effective. The actions of the felons was the sad and unacceptable exception to the way the office has conducted itself for seven years."
Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Wednesday for her role in the politically motivated 2013 lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. Bill Baroni, another former Christie ally convicted in the scandal, received a 24-month sentence in a separate hearing. Former Port Authority executive David Wildstein, the governor's star witness, admitted to conceiving the retaliation plot and previously pleaded guilty.
Trial testimony described angry tirades by Christie and detailed his subordinates using the Port Authority as a source of political favors for politicians whose endorsements they sought.
At Kelly's sentencing, U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton said she didn't believe her to be a victim, as Kelly claimed in court, but did in part blame the political culture in Trenton.
"It's very clear the culture in Trenton was 'you're either with us or you're not,'" Wigenton said, telling Kelly that she "got caught up in a culture and an environment that lost its way."
Kelly and Baroni were both convicted in November of all counts against them. They are appealing their convictions.
Christie was never charged in the case and consistently said he had no knowledge prior to or during the lane closures, but the scandal sank the Republican's White House bid. Christie has since turned his attention in his final year in office to addressing the state's opioid epidemic, and on Wednesday he was at the White House, where he was selected to lead a drug addiction task force. While his press office hyped up the White House event, it did not comment on Wednesday's sentencing.
Christie, who is term-limited, has seen his approval ratings hover around 20 percent recently. His future after politics is unclear, although he has said he plans to make money in private life after nearly two decades in the public spotlight. He was U.S. attorney for New Jersey before running for governor in 2009.