Former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive David Wildstein admitted that the George Washington Bridge lane closures were political retaliation against a Democratic New Jersey mayor, NJ.com reported.
Wildstein, who was a Christie appointee, pleaded guilty on two counts of conspiracy at a US District Court in Newark earlier today. He was issued a $100,000 bond and was released on his own recognizance, with sentencing scheduled for August.
Judge Susan D. Wigenton asked Wildstein,
“Prior to, on, or about August 12, 2013, did you have separate discussions with [former Port Authority Deputy Executive Director William Baroni] and [Christie’s former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly] about how the local access lanes could be used as leverage against [Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich]?”
“Yes,” Wildstein answered.
“Did you agree with the others, including Mr. Baroni and Ms. Kelly, to punish Mayor Sokolich for not endorsing Gov. Christie by deliberately causing significant traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Wigenton asked.
His response was the same: “Yes.”
Wildstein also admitted that the three of them deliberately chose the first day of school to close the bridge lanes to “maximise the traffic congestion in Fort Lee, and, thus, the punishment of Mayor Sokolich.”
His attorney, Alan Zegas, also repeated his claim that Gov. Christie absolutely “knew of the lane closures as they occurred.”
“Evidence exists … tying Mr. Christie to having knowledge of the lane closures, during the period when the lanes were closed, contrary to what the governor stated publicly in a two-hour press conference.”
After Wildstein entered his plea, Baroni and Kelly were each indicted on nine counts of conspiracy, fraud, and other related charges. According to the US Attorney’s office, the most serious charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years.
Christie maintains that he did not know of the lane closures, but that his highly suspect given the circumstances surrounding them. Wildstein’s position at the Port Authority, Director of Capital Projects, “had no job description” and was “never clearly defined,” but did come with a $150,000 salary, NJ reported.
There is no chance Christie wasn’t involved in this. The entire situation reeks of his corrupt political style.