New Jersey judge again backs ‘Bridgegate’ complaint against Christie

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By Joseph Ax | NEW YORK

NEW YORK A New Jersey judge has ruled for the
second time that a citizen’s criminal complaint against Governor
Chris Christie over the “Bridgegate” scandal can move forward.

At a hearing on Thursday, Judge Roy McGeady, who oversees
municipal courts in Bergen County, found probable cause for the
official misconduct complaint filed by activist Bill Brennan, a
retired firefighter who is running for governor this year.

Brennan, a Democrat, has accused Christie, a Republican, of
knowing about a plot to close lanes at the George Washington
Bridge in 2013 intended to punish a local mayor for failing to
endorse Christie’s re-election bid.

Despite McGeady’s ruling, however, it was not clear how the
case would proceed.

Typically, a citizen’s complaint backed by a probable cause
finding is referred to county prosecutors, who decide whether
enough evidence exists to support charges. The Bergen County
prosecutor’s office has already said it does not intend to
pursue a case against Christie.

In January, a higher-court judge threw out McGeady’s initial
finding of probable cause from last year because he failed to
give Christie’s lawyer an opportunity to participate in the
hearing. She ordered a new hearing, which eventually led to
McGeady’s decision on Thursday.

“The judge is violating the law, pure and simple,” said
Brian Murray, a spokesman for Christie’s office. “This concocted
claim was investigated for three months by the Bergen County
Prosecutor’s Office, which summarily dismissed it, after
concluding that the very same evidence relied upon again by this
judge was utter nonsense.”

McGeady set March 10 as the date for Christie to answer a
criminal summons, though it seems unlikely the governor will
appear in court.

Two former Christie allies were convicted last year of
orchestrating the plot, and U.S. prosecutors introduced evidence
at trial suggesting the governor was at least aware of the
scheme. Christie, who has not been charged by prosecutors, has
denied any knowledge of the closures at the time.

Legal experts have said the governor is unlikely to face
prosecution.

But the scandal has derailed what was once seen as a
promising political career. Christie, who has historically low
approval ratings, lost his presidential bid and was then passed
over by President Donald Trump for an administration post.

Christie is barred from running for re-election due to term
limits.



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