Two former associates of New Jersey Governor ChrisChristie were sentenced to prison Wednesday for their roles in the "Bridgegate" lane-closure scandal that played a part in torpedoing the Republican's White House ambitions.
Bill Baroni, 45, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was sentenced to two years in prison. He was found guilty in November of plotting to close down access lanes at the heavily used George Washington Bridge in 2013 in an act of political retribution.
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His co-defendant, formerChristiedeputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly, was sentenced to 18 months in prison during a federal court hearing in Newark later in the day. She was also place on probation for a year.
Prosecutors said the massive traffic jam they deliberately created in the town of Fort Lee was intended to punish its Democratic mayor for refusing to backChristie's re-election bid, as the governor's aides tried to burnish his bipartisan credentials in advance of his run for president.
Christiehas denied any involvement and was not charged. But the scandal's lasting fallout dampened enthusiasm forChristieas he sought the Republican nomination for president in 2016 and has saddled him with record-low approval ratings in his home state.
In an interview on NBC on Wednesday morning, the governor was asked whether he believed Baroni and Kelly should serve time behind bars.
"The judge will do what the judge believes is appropriate," saidChristie, who was in Washington for a White House event.
(Reuters reporting by Joseph Ax in New York; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Jeffrey Benkoe)