A federal judge has vacated the conviction of David Wildstein, the confessed mastermind of the New Jersey political revenge plot known as Bridgegate, who was the government’s star witness in its 2016 prosecution of two onetime allies of former Gov. Chris Christie.
U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton’s order came after the U.S. Supreme Court last month reversed the convictions of Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, the former deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. While the high court found that Kelly and Baroni had abused their power, it said their conduct fell short of a federal crime.
The convictions stemmed from their roles in a 2013 scheme to punish the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., for his refusal to endorse Christie’s reelection campaign. A jury found that Kelly and Baroni conspired to cause massive traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge by reducing the number of lanes available to commuters coming through Fort Lee.
The scandal helped derail Christie’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
Wildstein, 58, now the editor of the politics news site New Jersey Globe, pleaded guilty in 2015 to two felony conspiracy charges involving misuse of government property and violating Fort Lee residents’ civil rights. Following his cooperation at trial, he was sentenced to probation in 2017.
At the time, prosecutors praised Wildstein’s “extraordinary” cooperation and said he also helped in their prosecution of former Port Authority Chairman David Samson.
Samson pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge for coercing an airline to initiate a money-losing flight close to his vacation home and was sentenced in 2017 to four years’ probation, including one year of home confinement.
“The Supreme Court has determined that the lane realignment at the George Washington Bridge was not criminal,” Wildstein said Friday on Twitter. “However, the conduct by me and others was still wrong. This is not a vindication. My apologies stand, my remorse continues, and I fully accept responsibility for my role.”
At his 2017 sentencing hearing, Wildstein, referring to Christie, told the judge he had put his “faith and trust in a man who neither earned it nor deserved it.”
“I’ve done the best I could to right this incredible wrong,” Wildstein told Wigenton, adding that his cooperation “helped the public learn the truth about what happened at the George Washington Bridge.”
This article was updated to clarify the jury’s finding.