Lesniak Seeks Independent Prosecutor for Bergen Bridgegate Complaint

He’s out of the governor’s race, but not out of that sphere of influence otherwise known as elected office.

Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union) this afternoon called for an independent prosecutor to follow through on the criminal complaint filed against Governor Chris Christie alleging “official misconduct” by the governor for his failure to reverse the decision to close lanes to the George Washington Bridge when he was reportedly informed of the scheme two days into the closures, according to a release from the Senate Majority Office.

Lesniak said that an independent investigation is the best way to remove any perceived conflict of interest.

The senator fired offf a letter to Attorney General Christopher Porrino asking him to request from Chief Justice Stuart Rabner a recommended independent prosecutor who would be appointed by the Attorney General to investigate the complaint against Governor Christie.

“While I have no doubt that as Attorney General you would handle this matter impartially and appoint a qualified independent attorney to handle the complaint, the appearance of a personal conflict arising from your long-standing professional relationship with Governor Christie requires that the special prosecutor be appointed by Chief Justice Rabner,” the senator said in his correspondence to the state’s top law enforcement official.

Lesniak also said he is drafting legislation to write into state law the requirement that a special prosecutor be appointed when a criminal complaint is filed against a sitting governor. A criminal complaint has been filed against Governor Christie by Bill Brennan in Bergen County who has a motion to appoint a special prosecutor but there is no law permitting that.

“While there are no pristine procedures under these circumstances, in my opinion, the Chief Justice would be the best person to make this decision when it arises,” said Lesniak, who asked that the Attorney General not wait for his legislation to be signed into law for this case and that Justice Rabner should appoint a special prosecutor to handle the current complaint.

Brennan, a former firefighter from Teaneck, filed a complaint against Governor Christie in municipal court, arguing that Christie engaged in “official misconduct” because he should have reversed the lane closures once he became aware of them. Bergen County Presiding Municipal Court Judge Roy McGreedy found that probable cause existed and referred the complaint to the Bergen County Prosecutor.

“The official misconduct complaint against Governor Christie filed by Brennan, for which Bergen County Presiding Municipal Court Judge McGreedy found that probable cause existed and referred to the Bergen County Prosecutor, must be referred to a Special Prosecutor,” Lesniak wrote.

The governor appoints all 21 county prosecutors.

The convictions of Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly indicate that Wildstein’s testimony constitutes credible evidence and now that the trial is completed, prosecutors can pursue this complaint absent concern of interfering with the trial.

“Wildstein has every motive to be truthful,” Brennan wrote in a legal filing on Oct. 5, adding that “the U.S. attorney has an affirmative duty to safeguard the criminal justice system from perjured testimony.” Brennan had also cited text messages from former Christie aide Christina Renna, who wrote in 2013 that Christie “flat-out lied” at a news conference about the lane closures.

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