Prosecutor drops Bridgegate case against Christie — Says they can’t prove guilt
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HACKENSACK — The criminal complaint against Gov. Chris Christie in the Bridgegate scandal has been administratively dismissed by prosecutors, who said they do not believe that they could prove the governor's guilt.
The decision may be the final roadblock for citizen activist William Brennan, who filed the official misconduct charge against Christie in September after two of the governor's former aides were convicted by a federal jury for their roles in the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures.
The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday said they dropped the complaint, explaining that Brennan — a former firefighter who says he is running for governor — was unable to bolster his case against Christie.
"The rationale for our decision is simple and compelling — we do not believe that an official misconduct charge can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," prosecutors said in a letter to Superior Court Judge Bonnie Mizdol.
Prosecutors already have said that they did not wish to prosecute Christie on the official misconduct charge.
The judge also previously denied Brennan's request for a special prosecutor.
Brennan charged Christie with failing to order his subordinates to "take all necessary action to reopen local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge" after he learned about what was happening.
Christie has denied knowledge in the plot, which another Christie ally testified was hatched as a revenge against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for not endorsing the Republican governor's re-election bid.
Christie's spokesman on Thursday issued a sharply worded statement that criticized the Fort Lee Municipal Court judge who allowed the "factually and legally baseless complaint" to proceed because of "a lack of courage, wisdom and ethics."
"Today, in dismissing this absurd complaint, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has reiterated what is the result of now four separate investigations — the governor had absolutely no role in the incident at the George Washington Bridge. All those who wish it were otherwise have again been proven wrong," Brian Murray said.
Prosecutors argued in court that citizen complaints should be reserved for lesser offenses and that private citizens cannot prosecutor serious crimes.
An official misconduct conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of five years.
In the separate federal case against Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni, a federal judge this week denied their appeal for a new trial. They face up to 20 years in prison when they are sentenced in March.
Kelly was deputy chief of staff to Christie and Baroni was a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email email@example.com.