Bridgegate Verdict Overturned
Convictions of Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni were overturned
On May 7, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions of Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni for their roles in “Bridgegate”, the politically motivated scheme to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for not endorsing former Governor Chris Christie’s 2013 reelection campaign.
Kelly, the former deputy chief of staff to Governor Christie, and Baroni, the deputy director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were found guilty in 2016, of fraud and conspiracy in connection with a scheme to purposely tie up morning rush hour traffic heading into New York City.
On behalf of a unanimous court, Associate Justice Kagan wrote that Kelly and Baroni’s conduct was not a violation of federal-program fraud or wire fraud statutes because the scheme was not aimed at obtaining money or property, as required by the laws.
The Court held that the reallocation of the lanes was an exercise of regulatory power. In a previous ruling the Court held a scheme to alter a regulatory choice is not a taking of government property. The Court rejected the prosecutor’s arguments that taking control of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge and the cost of compensation paid to traffic engineers and back-up toll takers satisfied the statute.
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