David Wildstein, a former senior appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleads guilty to criminal charges relating to the ''Bridgegate'' scandal. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) A former ally of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday (May 1) pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the George Washington Bridge closure scandal, delivering another blow to Christie's image at a time when he is trying to get his presidential campaign off the ground. David Wildstein, who had been a senior Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy at a U.S. district court in Newark. He was released on his own recognizance on a $100,000 bond. The judge in the case cited his cooperation with prosecutors for the release term. Sentencing is set for August. U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman said, Wildstein "admitted in federal court this morning that he and others orchestrated a deliberate and illegal scheme to reduce the access lanes from three to one in order to punish Mark Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Governor Christie's re-election." Prosecutors also unsealed indictments against Bill Baroni, former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Bridget Kelly, a former deputy chief of staff to Christie. They were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They were the first charges stemming from the September 2013 incident, which created four days of traffic snarls on the Hudson River crossing into New York City. In December, a New Jersey legislative panel blamed Wildstein and another Christie aide for ordering the bridge lanes closed. Christie has denied knowing about the incident, and the joint panel of Democrats and Republicans in December found no evidence he was involved. The political fallout has hurt his brand as he considers a run for the Republican presidential nomination.