On Tuesday, a federal appeals court dropped some of the convictions against two former aides of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni were sentenced in 2016 in the alleged conspiracy to cause traffic jams to punish a mayor for failing to endorse Christie's candidacy for re-election.
The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States in Philadelphia dismissed one charge of civil rights conspiracy for each defendant. Confirmed the convictions for electronic fraud and the misapplication of property of an organization that receives federal funds.
Baroni and Kelly had tried to discard all charges.
Both are expected to be resentful. Kelly currently faces a sentence of 18 months, while Baroni faces 24 months. They can also request that the Third Circuit hear the case.
His lawyers did not immediately comment on Tuesday's ruling.
In their court documents, Kelly and Baroni's attorneys had argued that their civil rights convictions were based on a right to travel within the state that had not been recognized by the Supreme Court.
Kelly was the author of the infamous email "the hour of some traffic problems in Fort Lee" a month before the three access roads to the bridge were reduced to one, without notifying the local authorities.
The massive stalemate for four days and part of a fifth in September 2013 became a scandal called "Bridgegate" that dragged Christie's presidential aspirations and, later, Christie admitted, played a role in the decision of the then Republican candidate Donald Trump not to name him. your career partner
Baroni was deputy executive director at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, and Kelly was Christie's assistant director of staff. A third defendant, David Wildstein, a former Christie & # 39; s high school classmate who reported to Baroni at the Port Authority, pleaded guilty and testified against Baroni and Kelly.
The testimony of the trial by the defendants and several others contradicted Christie's story when she learned of the traffic jams. Christie was never charged and denied prior knowledge or participation in the alleged plan.
Kelly and Baroni also argued in their appeals that the electronic fraud charges for which they were convicted were incorrectly based on actions that did not deprive the government of money or property, and that the government erroneously applied the law that governs the fraudulent use of facilities that receive more than $ 5,000 in federal funds.
The defendants also unsuccessfully sought a mistrial because US District Judge Susan Wigenton instructed the jury not to find that the government had proven the existence of a politically motivated plot behind the lane realignment to find culprits to the accused.