Bridgegate defendants Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni sentenced to prison terms
Two former allies of Gov. Chris Christie will be spending some time behind bars for their roles in the Bridgegate lane-closing scandal.
Former Christie aide Bridget Ann Kelly was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Co-defendant Bill Baroni, a former Port Authority official, was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
Federal prosecutors say that the sentences are justice for the people of New Jersey.
Kelly, a mother of four, wept during her sentencing. Her attorney had asked the judge for leniency.
"I want to assure my kids and everyone else that this fight is far from over," Kelly said after her sentence was handed out. "I will not allow myself to be a scapegoat in this case and I look very much forward to the appeal."
But Judge Susan Wigenton said that Kelly was far from a victim.
Kelly, Baroni and another former Port Authority official, David Wildstein, are accused of conducting a fake traffic study by closing two access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee in September 2013. The four-day closures caused major gridlock in the town. This was reportedly done as a form of punishment against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for refusing to endorse Christie during his 2013 re-election campaign.
Wildstein pleaded guilty to the scandal and testified for the prosecution.
Baroni says that he will also appeal his conviction. He read a statement in court apologizing that he "allowed himself to get caught up in this." But he said that there were others involved who did not face any charges.
But Judge Wigenton said he played a pivotal role in the plot, perjured himself on the witness stand and lied to state lawmakers about the cover-up.
Federal authorities say that the sentences handed down fit the crime.
"This was a case about an abuse of power. When government officials serve their own self-interest, whether politically, whether financially, at the expense of the people they're supposed to serve, the government is going to be there to prosecute," says interim U.S. Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick.
Wildstein pleaded guilty to the scandal and testified for the prosecution. He has yet to be sentenced. His punishment is expected to be lighter because he cooperated with investigators.
The governor has maintained that he had no knowledge of the plot. He was not indicted.