Political News

Top Christie aide gets 13 months for 'Bridgegate,' calls ex-gov a 'bully'

Posted April 25, 2019 12:45 p.m. EDT

— A former top aide to Chris Christie was sentenced Wednesday to 13 months in prison for her involvement in the infamous "Bridgegate" scandal that left a mark on the career of the former New Jersey governor, whom the aide described as a "bully."

"Mr. Christie, you are a bully and the days of you calling me a liar and destroying my life are over," Christie's former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, said outside the Martin Luther King Building and US Courthouse in Newark following her sentencing.

Fighting back tears, Kelly added: "The truth will be heard -- and for the former governor, that truth will be unescapable, regardless of lucrative television deals or even future campaigns. I plan to make sure of that."

Kelly was convicted in 2016 for her role in a scheme to punish Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not endorsing Christie's 2013 re-election bid. Kelly and others misused Port Authority resources to close several lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge and thus cause severe traffic issues in the town, according to the US Attorney's office in New Jersey.

She was previously sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2017 but appealed her conviction. In 2018, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld five of seven convictions in the case leading to Kelly's new sentence of 13 months.

In February, Kelly's co-defendant, former Port Authority deputy director Bill Baroni, was re-sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in the scheme. He was originally sentenced to 24 months in prison, but was also able to reduce his number of convictions from seven to five during a 2018 appeal.

In her statement Wednesday, Kelly said the fact that she was punished for the scheme while other former members of Christie's administration -- including the former governor -- were not "does not prove my guilt. It only proves that justice is not blind."

Christie has not faced charges in the matter, and he has maintained he had no knowledge of the lane closures, denying any wrongdoing.

Following Kelly's sentencing this week, the former governor, through a spokesperson, again denied having knowledge of the plan, telling The Star-Ledger that "no credible evidence was ever presented to contradict that fact."