Judge to weigh citizen’s ‘Bridgegate’ complaint against N.J.’s Christie

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By Joseph Ax

<span class="articleLocation”>A New Jersey judge plans to decide by Friday
whether to dismiss a citizen’s criminal complaint accusing
Governor Chris Christie of a role in the “Bridgegate”
lane-closure scandal.

Prosecutors in Bergen County told Judge Bonnie Mizdol on
Wednesday that the case should be tossed on procedural grounds
because a different judge who permitted it to advance failed to
give Christie’s lawyers an opportunity to speak at an earlier
hearing.

A lawyer for Christie also urged Mizdol to throw out the
complaint filed by Bill Brennan, a retired firefighter and
activist who recently announced a long-shot bid to succeed the
governor in this fall’s election.

Christie did not attend the hearing in Hackensack, New
Jersey.

Brennan has accused Christie of knowing about a scheme to
shut down access lanes at the George Washington Bridge in 2013
to punish a local mayor for failing to endorse his reelection
campaign.

Two former Christie associates were convicted in November of
federal charges for orchestrating the plot. Christie has denied
any knowledge of or involvement in the plan, but U.S.
prosecutors presented evidence at trial suggesting he was at
least aware of the lane closures while they were happening.

Brennan filed the complaint in municipal court in Fort Lee,
where the closures occurred.

In October, Judge Roy McGeady referred the complaint to
prosecutors to determine whether enough evidence existed to
support criminal charges against Christie.

Christie’s lawyer, Craig Carpenito, said in a court filing
that the matter should never have gotten that far, calling it “a
political stunt from a now-declared candidate for governor.”

Brennan has said he will refile his complaint if Mizdol, the
top judge in Bergen County, decides to dismiss it. Last month,
Mizdol denied Brennan’s request to have an independent
prosecutor assigned to the case.

“As of now the defendant controls the prosecutor,” Brennan
said in an email after the hearing, “and that is a dangerous
place for us to be standing.”

Despite Christie’s denials, the scandal dogged his failed
bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He was once seen
as a possible cabinet appointee for U.S. President-elect Donald
Trump until the conviction of his former allies prompted a fresh
round of negative attention.

Bridget Kelly, a former Christie chief of staff, and Bill
Baroni, a former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
executive appointed by the governor, are trying to have their
convictions overturned.



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