Two former officials convicted in a scheme to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge for political punishment will be resentenced after a federal appeals court reversed part of their convictions.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Philadelphia on Tuesday reversed convictions of Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly for violating the civil rights of people who used the bridge, report the North Jersey Record, NJ.com and the New Jersey Law Journal. The court left intact their convictions for wire fraud conspiracy and misappropriation of government resources.
Baroni was the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Kelly was deputy chief of staff to then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Baroni and Kelly were accused of closing several lanes for four days in September 2013 to punish a mayor who didn’t endorse the governor for re-election. Christie has denied having advance knowledge of the plan.
Baroni had been sentenced to 24 months in prison, while Kelly had received an 18-month sentence.
The appeals court said Baroni and Kelly used Port Authority employees to do sham work to support their scheme, violating a law that bars misapplying the property of an organization that receives federal benefits. The Port Authority receives federal funding.
The court also upheld wire fraud conspiracy convictions based on allegations that Baroni and Kelly used emails to deprive the Port Authority of overtime pay for toll both collectors by falsely representing the lanes were closed for a traffic study.
But the court said the civil rights violations couldn’t be upheld because they were based on an alleged right to travel freely between states, which has not been clearly established.
A lawyer for Kelly pledged to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. A lawyer for Baroni said he and his client were “evaluating further appellate options.”
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