Christie faces of­fi­cial mis­con­duct com­plaint

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS -

HACK­EN­SACK, N.J. >> Repub­li­can Gov. Chris Christie wasn’t charged by fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in the George Washington Bridge laneclos­ing case and wasn’t held re­spon­si­ble by other in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the po­lit­i­cal re­venge plot, but he’s now been en­snared again in the le­gal fall­out be­cause of a cit­i­zen’s mis­con­duct com­plaint.

A New Jersey judge on Thurs­day al­lowed the com­plaint against Christie to move for­ward. Christie’s of­fice said he will appeal and de­scribed the cit­i­zen as a “se­rial com­plainant and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist with a his­tory of abus­ing the system.”

The com­plaint, filed by re­tired Tea­neck fire­fighter Wil­liam Bren­nan, alleges Christie “know­ingly re­frained from or­der­ing that his sub­or­di­nates take all nec­es­sary ac­tion to re­open lo­cal ac­cess lanes” from Fort Lee that had been “closed with the pur­pose to in­jure Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich” for not en­dors­ing Christie’s re-elec­tion bid. The com­plaint claims res­i­dents were “de­prived the ben­e­fit and en­joy­ment of their com­mu­nity.”

The judge’s rul­ing comes amid the trial of two former Christie ap­pointees who are ac­cused of or­ches­trat­ing the lane clo­sures in Septem­ber 2013 as ret­ri­bu­tion against Sokolich, a Demo­crat. The gov­ern­ment’s star wit­ness, David Wild­stein, tes­ti­fied that sev­eral mem­bers in the gover­nor’s in­ner cir­cle knew about the plot be­fore­hand or soon af­ter and that Christie him­self was told about the traf­fic jams on the third day of the four-day lane clo­sures.

Christie has adamantly de­nied that hap­pened and spokesman Brian Mur­ray says, “The sim­ple fact is the gover­nor had no knowl­edge of the lane re­align­ments ei­ther be­fore they hap­pened or while they were happening.”

The gover­nor’s mis­con­duct case next goes to the Ber­gen County pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, which will de­cide whether it will lead to an in­dict­ment. Christie ap­pointed the pros­e­cu­tor.

Spec­ta­tors in the court­room who were mostly there for mi­nor crim­i­nal vi­o­la­tions ap­plauded af­ter Judge Roy McGeady’s rul­ing.

“I’m sat­is­fied that there’s prob­a­ble cause to be­lieve that an event of of­fi­cial mis­con­duct was caused by Gov. Christie,” McGeady said. “I’m go­ing to is­sue the sum­mons.”

Christie at­tor­ney Craig Carpen­ito told the judge that the com­plaint was “in­ten­tion­ally mis­lead­ing” and that what Christie knew about the clo­sures was al­ready thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gated.

Of­fi­cial mis­con­duct is con­sid­ered a sec­ond-de­gree of­fense in New Jersey and car­ries a pos­si­ble sen­tence of five to 10 years. An ini­tial court ap­pear­ance is sched­uled for Oct. 24.

Three in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the scan­dal did not find ev­i­dence Christie au­tho­rized or knew about the lane clo­sures, a fact that his spokesman re­it­er­ated af­ter the sum­mons Thurs­day. Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors did not charge Christie af­ter their in­ves­ti­ga­tion, a Democra­tled leg­isla­tive panel failed to find ev­i­dence link­ing the gover­nor to the plot and a 2014 tax­payer-funded report found the gover­nor wasn’t aware of the Septem­ber 2013 clo­sures un­til af­ter­ward.

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