BRIDGEGATE: Baroni arrives at the federal courthouse

billbaro

NEWARK – Responding to an indictment charging him with conspiracy in the Bridgegate case, Bill Baroni, the former deputy director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, arrived moments ago at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Courthouse.

“Going inside,” said the former 14th District senator from Hamilton when reporters asked him for his status.

Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Christie, face charges by a federal grand jury in a nine-count indictment unsealed Friday. David Wildstein, the former director of Interstate Capital Projects at the Port Authority, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court to a separate information charging him with two counts of conspiracy for his role in the alleged scheme. WIlstein said Baroni and Kelly participated in a conspiracy to shut down traffic on the George Washington Bridge to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not supporting the reelection of Gov. Chris Christie.

Through their respective attorneys, Baroni and Kelly maintained their innocence and called Wildstein a liar. Today, Baroni will report to Judge Wigenton’s courtroom for his first appearance since the feds charged him.

He has a scheduled arraignment at 11 a.m. with Kelly.

Once a popular assembly and state senator known for employing a rogorous work ethic on the campaign trail in his hometown of Hamilton, Baroni ran with the support of public sector labor and had a knack for working across the aisle. Shortly after taking office in as a state senator in 2008, Baroni supported paid family sick leave – a pro labor measure backed by then-Democratic Governor Jon Corzine. He was also an early Republican supporter of marriage equality.

Having vanquished Corzine, Christie – a champion of controversial public pension and benefits overhauls – appointed Baroni to the Port Authority prior to what would have been the senator’s 2011 reelection in the public sector-union district. Democrat Linda Greenstein wrested the seat away from the GOP when she ran in a special election.

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BRIDGEGATE: Baroni arrives at the federal courthouse