The Latest: Witness: Bridge defendants OK’d gridlock plan


NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Latest in the trial of two former allies of Republican Gov. Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane closing case (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

A witness has testified that both defendants in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial approved a plan to cause gridlock in September 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

David Wildstein testified Monday in the fraud trial of former bridge authority executive Bill Baroni and former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly.

Wildstein told jurors Baroni and Kelly approved the plan to realign traffic lanes with no advance notice to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. He says they also approved his idea to not respond to complaints once the traffic jams started.

Wildstein also testified when he suggested to Baroni the idea of timing the gridlock to coincide with the first day of school, Baroni smiled and said, “Fantastic.”

Baroni and Kelly have pleaded not guilty.

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11:15 a.m.

A key figure in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case says he received an email from a staffer for Gov. Chris Christie that he interpreted as an order to cause gridlock near the bridge.

David Wildstein says it was an effort to punish a Democratic mayor for not endorsing the Republican governor.

Wildstein worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge. On Monday he told jurors about an August 2013 email from Bridget Kelly that said it was “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Kelly has claimed the email was a joke, but Wildstein says he didn’t think it was.

The government contends that a month later Wildstein, Kelly and Port Authority executive Bill Baroni put the plan into action.

Wildstein has pleaded guilty. Baroni and Kelly are on trial.

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10:50 a.m.

The government’s key witness in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case is testifying about efforts to gain an endorsement from a Democratic mayor.

David Wildstein worked for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that operates New York-area bridges, tunnels, ports and airports. He pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to cause traffic gridlock near the bridge to punish Fort Lee’s mayor for not endorsing Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Wildstein’s former boss, Bill Baroni, and former Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, are on trial for fraud, conspiracy and civil rights counts. They’re accused of helping to plan and carry out the scheme.

Christie hasn’t been charged.

On Monday, Wildstein expanded on his testimony from last week that the Port Authority was used to hand out money and favors to towns where Christie’s campaign sought endorsements.

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6:20 a.m.

The government’s star witness in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case is set to return to the witness stand in the federal trial of two former allies of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein pleaded guilty last year to orchestrating traffic jams near the bridge in 2013 to punish a Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Christie. Christie wasn’t charged.

Prosecutors say Wildstein conspired with former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni and Christie’s former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly.

Last week, Wildstein testified Baroni and Kelly were part of efforts by Christie’s administration to use the Port Authority to provide political favors to politicians in return for endorsements.

Defense attorneys have characterized Wildstein as a vulgar, power-smitten opportunist.

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