The Latest: Jury begins deliberations in lane-closing case

AP News
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Posted: Oct 31, 2016 3:39 PM
The Latest: Jury begins deliberations in lane-closing case

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

3:15 p.m.

The fate of two former allies of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie charged with using traffic jams for political revenge is in the hands of a jury.

Attorneys wrapped up closing arguments Monday in the case against former Christie staffer Bridget Kelly and former bridge authority appointee Bill Baroni.

The trial is in its seventh week. Baroni and Kelly are charged with scheming to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie.

They were charged in a nine-count indictment last year with wire fraud, misusing bridge authority property and civil rights offenses.

Christie wasn't charged.

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This story has been corrected to show the indictment contains nine counts, not seven.

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12:05 p.m.

An attorney for one of two former allies of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie charged in a political retaliation plot says the Republican and members of his inner circle are "cowards" for not testifying in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial.

Michael Critchley thundered at Christie in closing arguments Monday at the trial of former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive Bill Baroni.

They are charged with using traffic jams to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie.

They testified they believed the gridlock was caused by a legitimate traffic study.

Kelly said Christie and others knew about the traffic study before it occurred in September 2013. Christie has denied that and wasn't charged.

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10:30 a.m.

The attorney for one of Republican Gov. Chris Christie's former staffers calls the star witness against her in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case "the Bernie Madoff of New Jersey politics."

Michael Critchley used the term in closing arguments Monday to describe David Wildstein, a former bridge authority official who pleaded guilty. He testified that Bridget Kelly and another defendant schemed to punish a Democratic mayor who didn't endorse Christie.

Critchley says Wildstein concocted the scheme to impress Christie.

Jurors could begin deliberating Monday.

Kelly wrote the infamous "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" email a month before the September 2013 lane closures.

She testified she deleted that email and others because she was scared others in Christie's administration who knew of the lane closures weren't being forthcoming.

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12:25 a.m.

Jurors in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial in New Jersey are going to hear from lawyers one more time.

A defense lawyer for a former aide to Republican Gov. Chris Christie will give his closing argument on Monday. The prosecution will then get a chance to present a rebuttal summation before jurors begin deliberations.

The jury heard closing arguments from the prosecution and from the lawyer representing another former Christie ally on Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Cortes said Friday that Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni used their political positions to create gridlock to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse Christie's 2013 re-election campaign.

The most serious charge they face, wire fraud conspiracy, carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.